Sydney’s Lockout Laws Could Be Relaxed By A Whole 30 Minutes

No major changes have been recommended.

The findings of the first official review into Sydney’s lockout laws have arrived and there are no major changes being recommended.

QC Ian Callinan has made his recommendations to the NSW Government and he’s advised “relaxing” the laws by pushing back the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks measures to a 2am lockout and 3.30 am last drinks call – but only for live entertainment venues.

Callinan has also recommended extending the cut-off in the sale of takeaway alcohol from 10pm to 11pm, and extending the delivery of alcohol from 10pm to midnight. The review also poured cold water on the idea of a Night Mayor – apparently a new resource focused on co-ordinating night time entertainment shouldn’t be supported because “it would come at a cost” and “duplicate to some extent the energetic attempts of the city administration in various ways to stimulate the night time economy”.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the government will now “consider” the report and deliver a response before the end of the year. Even though the recommendations laid out by Callinan are pretty minor, there’s nothing forcing the government to follow through on them. If they do want to change the laws, they’ll have to go through a process of drafting new legislation and securing the support of both houses of parliament.

Since Sydney’s lockout laws were rushed through Parliament in February 2014, venues like Backroom, Soho, Hugo’s, The Flinders and Q-Bar have all shut their doors, Liverpool St’s revered Goodgod Small Club has been sold and rebranded as Plan B and the Keystone Group – which owns clubs like Cargo Bar, Bungalow 8 and The Sugarmill – has gone into receivership.

The laws have also had a huge economic impact on Kings Cross.  A study this year found found the number of late night punters in the CBD has dropped by 80% while in their submission to the Callinan review, popular Kings Cross club World Bar revealed that it had experienced a 25% drop in annual turnover since the lockouts started in 2014, alongside a bill of nearly $225,000 to comply with the new licensing conditions. Hugo’s Lounge complained of an 80% fall in revenue before they closed in 2015.

The review acknowledged the impact the laws had on businesses in Kings Cross but justified them in terms of the reduction in violent behaviour. Despite the relatively minor changes being proposed by the review, it’s likely groups including Keep Sydney Open will keep campaigning for a broader rollback of the laws.