Sydney’s controversial lockout laws might be rolled back, with a cross-party parliamentary committee examining the move as part of a review of the city’s night-time economy.
The NSW joint select committee will consult with NSW Police and health, community, entertainment and music groups, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday.
The premier says non-domestic assaults have dropped in the CBD and Kings Cross since 2014 when the government introduced controversial lockout laws in response to alcohol-fuelled violence.
“During this period, we have also worked to relax certain aspects of the laws such as extending trading hours for bars and clubs for major events, and making it easier for small bars, restaurants and cafes to start up and operate,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“After five years of operation, it makes sense for us to now take stock and examine whether any further changes should be made.”
The announcement follows a reported push by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro late in 2018 to scrap the laws in the CBD, although not in Kings Cross. The issue was discussed in cabinet at the time.
Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday the select committee would look at any measures needed to maintain and enhance health outcomes and community safety, enhance the night economy and ensure that regulations – including lockout laws – remain balanced.
It will report to parliament by the end of September.
Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore welcomed the announcement, saying the lockout laws had taken a “sledgehammer” to Sydney’s nightlife.
“As the committee considers winding back the laws, it must consider other measures to ensure a safe and vibrant nightlife,” she tweeted on Wednesday.
Ms Moore suggested running public transport 24-hours on Friday and Saturday nights and replacing lifetime liquor licences with renewable licences.
However, at the time of Mr Barilaro’s 2018 intervention, The Last Drinks group, made up of police and emergency service workers, said it would be “complete madness” to retract the laws.
“Any politician who weakens these restrictions will have blood on their hands. It’s that simple,” campaign spokesperson Dr Tony Sara said.