Sydney CBD Lockout Roll Back?

Sydney could be on the verge of rolling back the 1:30am lockouts, as the city bids to stimulate its night time economy, but the status quo of uncertainty remains for Kings Cross.

Speaking about plans, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said:

“While we will await the committee’s report, I agree it’s time to enhance Sydney’s nightlife". “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that." “The night time economy is a key driver of jobs in our city and we need to do everything we can to strengthen it".

Justine Baker, CEO at Solotel said: “We are thrilled about the decision to remove the lock out laws in the CBD, it’s a great first step in bringing excitement back to Sydney."

The Merivale Group's CEO, Justin Hemmes, also commented:

“With the imminent completion and launch of Sydney’s CBD light rail project and the pedestrianisation of George Street, we have an unprecedented opportunity to initiate a rebirth of our inner city and put it back on the international map.”

“We note that everyone wants to feel safe, no matter what time of day or night and we will work closely with all stakeholders to create a vibrant future for a city with a safe, fun and diverse culture that reflects the 24 hour energy of Tokyo, London and New York.”

Karl Schlothauer, Chair of the Independent Bars Association is all for the change.

“The Independent Bars Association welcomes the news regarding the winding back of the lockout laws, not only for its members but for night time economy as whole.”

“While this is a great first step there is still a lot to be done to make it easier to do business at night. The IBA looks forward to the full Parliamentary review and working with various stakeholders and authorities to restore Sydney to a truly global city.”

So optimism within the industry is high, but not everyone shares the same confidence just yet; for Michael Rodrigues, Chair of the Night Time Industries Association, the work is far from done:

“To say the repeal of the CBD lockouts is welcomed is an understatement. This is going to give parts of the city’s nightlife a unique opportunity to work with the community and the Government to rebuild a vibrant and thriving future for our night time in the city area – but the work isn’t done yet.”

“The Government’s inquiry into Sydney’s night time, shed light on many issues, including the reputation damage done to Sydney as a whole, due to how downgraded our nightlife culture has become. We’re keenly looking forward to the report from this inquiry due 30 September which we expect will more fully address the suite of reforms needed to unlock the power of Sydney’s night time economy.” “We look forward to this being one of many steps the Government will take to revitalise our city’s nightlife.” concluded Rodrigues.

Keep Sydney Open also shared a mixed statement of optimism and concern:

“This is a huge moment. Years of campaigning has led us to this point. We should all be very proud of our dedication, hard work and persistence.”

“There are still many details that are unclear. Why is Kings Cross left out? What about Oxford Street? When are closing times? Either way, we will all need to pitch in to rebuild our city’s night-life, live music scene and local culture from this point on.”

Dr Tony Sara (spokesperson for Keep Sydney Open) suggested that we err on the side of caution: “This pattern of unilateral decision taking, given the report of the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night Time Economy hasn’t been revealed to the public yet, is concerning,”

“The committee’s process isn’t being respected and nor is the input and evidence presented by submitters. At this stage, given the Committee’s report is being effectively ignored, we have no idea of how they have balanced known risk factors or projected what it will take to preserve safety.”

So what now?

Well, the joint parliamentary committee is set to deliver its report on 30 September 2019 (and have received almost 800 submissions).

The Premier will now consult with her colleagues before making a final decision on the implementation of safety measures required in order to roll back the lockout responsibly, and commence the rebuild of Sydney’s night-time economy.

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