Problem with scrapped lockout laws
Sydney's controversial lockout laws are set be scrapped after facing huge protest from local residents and visitors.
But while Sydney Premier Gladys Berejiklian finally conceded that it was time to boost the city's struggling night-time economy, there's a major flaw in her plans to give business a much needed reboot.
After a cross-party parliamentary committee review of the laws earlier in the year, Ms Berejiklian unveiled plans to drop the 1.30am lockout legislation in the CBD - but not Kings Cross where businesses have been hit the hardest.
"While we will await the committee's report, I agree it's time to enhance Sydney's night-life," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement to AAP on Sunday.
"Sydney is Australia's only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that."
The legislation was introduced in 2014 in a bid to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence after the one-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie. Ms Berejiklian hopes to introduce changes to the contentious legislation by the end of the year.
In 2018, Steve Ward, who opened the now defunct World Bar in Kings Cross, said the impact of the lockouts on his business had been "huge".
"The obvious connection that people will make on our closure is the effect of the lockout laws. It's undeniable that they have had a huge impact on us, as well as Sydney's live music scene," he said.
At the time The World Bar joined a growing list of beloved Sydney venues to shut up shop since the lockout laws were announced. Hugos Bar and Lounge, Flinders Hotel in Darlinghurst, The Soho, The Exchange Hotel, Beach Haus and Hudson Ballroom all also ceased trading.
MAJOR CONCERNS OVER THE MOVE
The move has been criticised as "premature" by the Keep Sydney Safe campaign which represents emergency service workers in NSW.
Spokesman Tony Sara argues the announcement is concerning, given the committee report has not yet been published and called on Ms Berejiklian to release the findings.
"The committee's process isn't being respected … Given the committee's report is being effectively ignored, we have no idea of how they have balanced known risk factors or projected what it will take to preserve safety," Dr Sara said in a statement on Sunday.
He said emergency service workers know too well the consequences of dismantling the "modest laws" and warned assault figures will rise if they're repealed.
St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst described the surprise announcement as "incredibly disappointing" and a huge backward step to the "bad old days".
"We feel there is going to be a sacrifice in terms of community safety in the interests of a small community who want drinking culture introduced again, so that is a disappointment," a spokesperson told ABC.
The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released research in August that suggested the laws reduced the number of assaults but the benefit is diminishing over time. It also found non-domestic assaults dropped 53 per cent in Kings Cross and four per cent in the CBD since lockouts were introduced. But in the same period, assaults rose by 30 per cent at alternative nightspots accessible from the city.
'HUGE MOMENT' OF CELEBRATION
Keep Sydney Open - a political party that has campaigned against the strict laws since they came in - described the news as "huge" in a Facebook post.
"This is a huge moment. Years of campaigning has led us to this point. We should all be very proud of our dedication, hard work and persistence," the statement read.
"There are still many details that are unclear. Why is Kings Cross left out? What about Oxford Street? When are closing times? Either way, we will all need to pitch in to rebuild our city's night-life, live music scene and local culture from this point on."
Hundreds of comments in support of the move have been shared, many describing it as "incredible" news.
"Fantastic news thanks for all you persistence and hard work it just shows the results you can achieve if you never give up," one wrote.
"Very good news. However, I'm worried that some restrictions will still apply," another said.
Some pointed out the lack of report details make it difficult to celebrate just yet.
"As much as we'd like to celebrate, there doesn't appear to be a time frame of when the laws will be lifted," one highlighted.
"A cautious WOOHOO … till is legislated," another agreed.
"I'm very concerned about the impact continuing the lockouts in Kings Cross will have on Oxford St," another said.
LAWS MADE SYDNEY A 'LAUGHING STOCK'
Last month, night-life advocates said Sydney's lockout laws turned the NSW capital into a global "laughing stock", and said it's a problem that could take "half a generation to fix".
"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," Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne told a NSW parliamentary inquiry.
Singer-songwriter Jenny Morris echoed his sentiment.
"It's a laughing stock," she said.
In October last year, a huge rally was held in Sydney by angry protesters who fought against the controversial laws that saw many business' forced to close.
Additional reporting by Dominica Sanda, AAP