Sydney lockout laws to be reviewed early

14th January, 2015 by Melita Kiely

The New South Wales government has brought forward a review into the effects of its lockout laws just days after an iconic Sydney venue closed, blaming the controversial legislation.


New South Wales’ lockout laws will be reviewed early after bar closures blame the controversial legislations

Historic gay bar, the Flinders, is just one of a multitude of venues in the Darlinghurst district that has recently blamed the laws for declining numbers of customers, which has resulted in reduced hours or closures.

Measures brought into effect in February 2014 require liquor shops in the Australian state to close at 10pm, while nightclubs and the Kings Cross area of Sydney are prohibited from admitting guests after 1.30am or serving drinks after 3am.

The measures were implemented in a bid to tackle excessive drinking after numerous reports of alcohol-related violence in Sydney and were due to be reviewed after two years.

However, medical experts and police have reported violence levels and hospital admissions have dramatically declined in lockout areas since the laws were introduced.

According to reports by the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesman for deputy premier Troy Grant said a review would be conducted in June 2015, when the government receives 12-month data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

“The NSW government supports evidence-based measures that balance individual and industry responsibility and that help curb anti-social behaviour,” she said.

It is believed the government will consider tweaking certain parts of the laws if found to be ineffective, but the initial planned review will still take place in February 2016.

Hospital admissions

During an inquiry into alcohol and drug-related violence in November last year it was recommended that laws should be reviewed at the “earliest possible stage”, to understand the effects on consumers and businesses.

In the last year, there has been a 40% decline in alcohol-related assaults at licensed venues in Kings Cross, with St Vincent’s Hospital reporting last July that the number of alcohol-related admittances had halved.

Nonetheless, City Sydney data indicated this may be due to fewer revellers in the area, as footpath congestion was down 84% in certain parts.

“We’re concerned that 12 months doesn’t give the government, and the broader community, enough time and data to fully assess the laws and their impact,” commented Toby Hall, St Vincent’s Health Australia chief executive. “We’re equally concerned that a premature assessment of the measures will lead to them being watered down and that would be disastrous.”

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