Keep Sydney Open, the activist group and now-official political party, is holding a rally outside NSW Parliament House tomorrow to support a proposed bill to repeal the city’s controversial “lockout” laws.
Inside Parliament House, a private members’ bill will be introduced by state MP Robert Borsak of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. The exact details of the bill are unknown but it will seek to repeal parts of the state’s liquor laws that lock patrons out of bars and clubs in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross precincts after 1.30am.
The laws were introduced in 2014 by the then-premier Barry O’Farrell in response to increasing incidents of alcohol-fuelled violence in the city’s nightclub hotspots. Keep Sydney Open argues the laws have decimated Sydney’s nightlife, and the livelihoods of its musicians, bands and DJS. They’ve drafted a policy to stimulate Sydney’s nightlife, including creating a 24-hour urban transport system, replacing the lockout restrictions with targeted liquor licensing and introducing targeted tax offsets to incentivise venues to host live music.
On its Facebook page it said: "A strong showing will make all the difference, as [NSW] Premier Gladys still seems to think it’s okay to run a major global city like a country town."
Protestors will meet at the top of Martin Place on Macquarie Street at around 10.30am, before making the short walk to the front of parliament house to coincide with the reading of the bill. The exact time of the rally will be confirmed on social media, as organisers say the bill’s reading in parliament may be brought forward. Joining the rally will be City of Sydney deputy lord mayor Linda Scott, DJ Tori Levett and NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong.
Repealing the lockout laws requires lower-house members to vote through the proposal after a debate on the bill. After that, it still needs the majority support of the upper house.
The anti-lockout movement has been building momentum not only among activists, but also within the state coalition’s ranks. Earlier this month, deputy premier John Barilaro and eight ministers reportedly expressed support for scrapping the laws everywhere except in Kings Cross. And in mid-2017, a relaxation of the laws meant a number of Sydney venues had their trading times extended by half an hour.
Keep Sydney Open’s campaign director Tyson Koh earmarked the laws as a hot-button issue for the upcoming state election in March of 2019.
“If the government were to dangle the carrot of removing the lockouts and setting the city free and then reneged on that, it would be an absolute disaster coming into the state election,” he told Broadsheet in early October.
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