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Sydney’s lockout laws will be lifted to reawaken night-time economy

The NSW premier will scrap the controversial lockout laws for most of the CBD by the end of the year but the lockouts will remain in place in Kings Cross.

The NSW premier is planning on scrapping Sydney’s lockout laws for most of the CBD but the move has been slammed by critics who argue public safety has improved since they were introduced.

Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday conceded it was time to boost Sydney’s night-time economy after a cross-party parliamentary committee review of the laws earlier in the year.

“While we will await the committee’s report, I agree it’s time to enhance Sydney’s nightlife,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement to AAP on Sunday.

“Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that.”

The premier will move to lift the 1.30am lockouts in the CBD entertainment district but the law will remain in place for Kings Cross.

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.

While some groups have welcomed the news, it has been criticised as “premature” by the Keep Sydney Safe campaign representing emergency service workers in NSW.

Spokesman Tony Sara argues the announcement is concerning, given the committee report has not yet been published and he 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 knew too well the consequences of dismantling the “modest laws” and warned assault figures would rise if they’re repealed.

Police Association NSW president Tony King said the restrictions had worked to improve public safety with decreases in assaults and crime across the city

“The statistics are actually showing the night-time economy has diversified and is growing,” Mr King told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“Lets keep it how it is.”

The Sydney Business Chamber and Night Time Industries Association welcomed the announcement, while emphasising that more work was needed to reinvigorate the night economy.

“It’s going to take more than just repealing the laws, we need a holistic approach to create a vibrant nightlife that’s also safe,” SBC executive director Katherine O’Regan said in a statement.

NTIA chair Michael Rodrigues said he looked forward to the parliamentary committee’s report, which he expected would more fully address the reforms needed.

“Our concern in the interim remains that as long as lockouts are in place in Kings Cross, Sydney’s global brand reputation will be unnecessarily tarnished,” he said in a statement.

The committee’s report is due to be released on September 30 with Independent MP Alex Greenwich saying the city is ready for its night-time economy to be revived.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released research in August that suggested the laws reduced the number of assaults but the benefit is diminishing over time.

BOCSAR 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.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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