The devasting impact of Sydney’s controversial late-night lockout laws have been revealed.
All up, 418 licensed premises in Kings Cross and the CBD have closed since the laws were introduced in 2014.
With 242 new licenses granted, there has been a net loss of 176 venues. Sydney’s oldest licensed music venue, The Basement, closed in April. Late night foot traffic in places like Kings Cross and Oxford Street has dropped by 80%!
The laws were supposedly introduced to curb alcohol-related violence, but Star Casino, with close Liberal Party ties, is exempt. Sydney Crown, owned by Liberal Party donors, will also be exempt.
Research has shown that far from curbing anti-social behaviour, people have merely been pushed into neighbouring areas.
The impact on employment in inner-city venues, and amongst those connected to the live music scene has been stark. By 2016, venues spent 15% less on performers. There was a 40% drop in revenue for live music and a 19% drop for clubs, while Star Casino had a revenue boost.
While anti-social behaviour can be a problem in areas dominated by bars and nightlife, lockout laws that effectively close down venues do not work. They are also an attack on our civil liberties.
Real solutions to the problems include the genuine responsible serving of alcohol. As it stands, venue owners prefer to ply people with alcohol in their quest for profits and then turf them out on the streets.
Additionally, many problems arise at crowded taxi ranks as people compete for rides home. Running public transport all night and making it free would eliminate these issues by helping to get people home quickly and safely.
Instead of slashing jobs and eroding the live music scene, these sorts of solutions would create jobs and allow the arts to flourish.
But the genuine health and safety concerns of people enjoying themselves is not the motivation behind these laws. The real motivation is to promote a perception amongst the public that the government is taking a hard-line approach to anti-social behaviour.
Their pretend solutions are in fact doing much more harm than good.
By Amy Neve