Everything You Need To Know About The NSW Govt’s Plan To Revive Sydney’s Nightlife

Even Keep Sydney Open are happy with the plan - but some business owners say their "bullshit monitor" is sounding the alarm.

sydney nightlife 24 hour economy strategy photo

We missed you too. Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, so you always know where to find us.

Yesterday, the NSW Government unveiled their grand plan to kickstart Sydney’s nightlife after years of bollocking thanks to lockout laws and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategy, called the ’24-Hour Economy Strategy’, contains five key points, from reviewing laws around liquor licensing and noise complaints, to the introduction of a “Coordinator General” (essentially a night mayor), relaxing regulations around pop-up events, to extending opening hours for “low impact retail businesses”.

“There is no denying Sydney is one of the best cities in the world, but we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure the jewel in our crown continues to shine both day and night,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a statement yesterday. “This strategy aims to drive investment, create jobs and attract more businesses to the CBD and surrounding suburbs, laying the ground-work for our State’s economic recovery so we can keep more businesses in business and people in jobs.”

There’s a lot of classically vague politically language in the action plan, but scope out the five points below.

Photo via NSW Government

Yep, as we mentioned…a lot of very vague language that reads like something out of Utopia. Here are the key takeaways: Sydney will be getting a dedicated Coordinator General, and there’ll be more integration across the whole of Sydney to boost nightlife outside of the classic CBD hubs.

Additionally, we can expect longer opening hours on some retail businesses, there’ll be more late-night transport options (including more parking), there’ll be a review into noise regulations, and liquor licensing will be streamlined in order to help venues.

“When we started planning this Strategy our goal was to take advantage of the $16 billion economic uplift from realising the potential of non-traditional work hours. Now, with the job losses resulting from the pandemic, that goal is more important than ever,” NSW Tourism minister Stuart Ayres said. “Sydneysiders deserve a global city that’s thriving 24-hours a day, and the world wants a 24-hour Sydney.”

While it’s obviously in the very early stages, the plan — set to be implemented over the next few years — is a major shift in the Coalition government’s messaging around the city’s nighttime economy. Never forget that this was the party — under former Premier Barry O’Farrell — that rushed through the lockout legislation in early 2014, which completely decimated Sydney’s nightlife and saw the closure of beloved venues such as Goodgod, Backroom, Soho, and Hugo’s.

The lockout laws were officially scrapped in January this year, but venues barely had two months of reprieve before COVID-19 restrictions came thundering down. The road to recovery will be long and difficult.

Yesterday’s announcement was received with a mixture of incredulity and excitement from industry bodies, with Keep Sydney Open Party calling it the result of years of hard campaigning.

“What’s most striking is how many of the key points read like a KSO wish-list,” they wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We’ve heard that it seems like a sudden one-eighty on the part of the government. The truth is, however, that it’s the result of many years working both publicly and privately, mounting a campaign alongside several organisations backed by the support of people like you.

“It was heartbreaking to have Sydney’s lockout laws removed only to be replaced with a lockdown. That’s why this plan is so important, so that when the world finally relaxes after the mess that has been 2020, Sydney is able to hit the ground running with a more vibrant 24-hour economy.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore also welcomed the announcement. “Given the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our cultural sector and nightlife, the launch of the strategy is particularly timely and its successful implementation particularly urgent,” Moore said in a statement. “The strategy complements the work the City has done over many years and will implement many of the recommendations we made to the Parliamentary Nighttime Economy Inquiry.”

Jake Smyth of Mary’s Group — which runs The Lansdowne, Mary’s Underground, and The Unicorn, among others — told Music Junkee the plan was “long overdue” — and there’s still a fair amount of bullshit to wade through.

“We agree that the strategic terms laid out are a promising starting point, however the longstanding trend towards powerful lobby groups seeding their hollow and self serving ideas into these focus groups is well ingrained, and our internal bullshit monitor goes off when we see these words being invoked by government,” Smyth said.

“A room full of bureaucrats, politicians and “Industry Leaders” will not drive this revolution. It is the small businesses that line the pockets of vibrancy that remain in our city that need to be heard. We need their voices to have a loud, clear and defined path to form the basis of each and every decision.”

Read through the 24-Hour Enconomy Strategy over here.

Photo Credit: Simone Cingano/Flickr