Keep Sydney Open (among other groups) has been invited by the NSW government to take part in discussions about the future of Sydney’s nightlife (as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald). The group organised the 10,000–15,000-person rally on February 21 in Sydney that protested the lockout laws.
“We’ve made a strong statement with the protests, but now we have to knuckle down and do hard work on a policy level,” says Tyson Koh, founder of Keep Sydney Open.
A review was announced on February 10. It is in response to the recent public and private backlash against the licensing restrictions for venues. These restrictions include mandatory state-wide 10pm bottle shop closing times, and a 1.30am lockout for patrons in the CBD area extending out to Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and The Rocks. Venues are not allowed to serve alcohol after 3am, although the laws exempt The Star Casino and other select venues.
The discussions will take place over the next three months with meetings in March, April and May. The aim of the discussions is to reach a consensus on ways of keeping Sydney open and safe. Koh is optimistic about the talks, although there’s a lot to do.
“Discussing the lockouts is a minefield. It’s a really complex issue. Rather than presenting just one or two issues, we want to really unpack the effects of the lockouts. This is an opportunity to really assess the last two years,” says Koh.
The talks will address the importance of public safety while considering the effect of the laws on Sydney’s nightlife culture.
“This isn’t about being able to get drunk. It’s about live music, theatre and food culture,” says Koh.
Koh plans to raise issues regarding the policies of present and past governments, including what he views as planning failures and inadequate policing and public transport. He will also bring up what he believes to be one of the biggest causes of Sydney’s nightlife problems: drinking and gambling is “intrinsically linked” because it is controlled by one governmental branch – the Liquor and Gaming NSW department.
Also at the discussions will be representatives from Uber, medical professionals; the hotel lobby; live music industry and youth organisations; and various government agencies, including the NSW Police and St Vincent’s Hospital.
If you would like your voice to be heard, Koh notes that public submissions for discussion points are open until April 4. Alternatively, he recommends signing Keep Sydney Open’s online petition.