Music

What You Need To Know About The Inquiry Into Sydney’s Lockout Laws

It's the best chance we've ever had to urge parliament to change or repeal the laws.

NSW Election Liberal lockout laws

It’s one of the Sydney’s most hot-button issues, sparking everything from debate to protests to political parties. Now, an official inquiry is being made into Sydney’s lockout laws, first introduced by then-NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell in 2014.

Lead by Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore, a committee of members of both music industry and music community are pushing to have the laws re-examined in parliament in order to turn around the city’s nightlife for the better. Music NSW and APRA AMCOS, as well as artists like Josh Pyke, Tim Levinson, CXLOE, Jonathon Schwartz, and Jenny Morris have appeared or will appear at the hearings over the week.

The inquiry follows a report back in June that showed that violence in the CBD had not been curbed thanks to the lockout laws — rather, that it had merely just been spread out. Speaking to reporters earlier this week (via The Guardian), Moore stated that “the lockout laws…have taken the oxygen out of Sydney’s night-life economy.”

She further alleged that the amount of live music venues in the city had been halved, and that there had been a significant drop in the amount of people under the age of 35 visiting Sydney — all in the five years since the lockout laws were introduced.

Although these stats were refuted by current NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (“The facts show otherwise,” she said to reporters), it’s hard not to look at the closure of places like the Newtown Social Club, World Bar and Black Wire Records as symptomatic of the impact the laws have had on venues across Sydney.

The movement to repeal the laws is quickly turning into one with bipartisan support. On Sunday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a growing amount of Liberal Party members — particularly within the Young Liberals — were in favour of changes put forward by Moore’s committee. In a submission, the Young Liberals noted that the lockout laws had “created onerous restrictions on free enterprise and further disillusioned young people from their government.”

Even the objectively terrible shock jock Alan Jones is sick of them: “These laws have crippled business and crippled Sydney as an international city,” Jones argued on his radio show on 2GB back in May. “Its reputation has been damaged. They should be abandoned. Open up the city.”

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne told the inquiry on Monday: “Melbourne are laughing at us and are benefiting greatly economically from the fact that that word of mouth has gone right around the country and right around the world.”

Booker and promoter Nathan Farrell issued an even direr statement to the committee: “We all need to consider it might take half a generation to fix the problem”.

The committee will hold two further hearings — this Friday and the following Monday — before reporting to Parliament at the end of September. After all these years, the tide could finally be turning on the lockout laws.