The NSW government has announced the state’s controversial lockout laws will be lifted in Sydney’s CBD and Oxford Street from January 14.
However, the laws will remain in place in Kings Cross.
The changes include:
- Removing 1.30am last entry for all licensed venues in the Sydney CBD, including Oxford Street;
- Extending last drinks at venues with “good records” by 30 minutes;
- Removing restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight;
- Extending bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday;
- Increasing small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.
Sydney’s lockout laws were introduced in 2014 by then-Premier Barry O’Farrell in a bid to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence.
They were sparked by the two “coward-punch” deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie in Kings Cross.
Opponents of the laws argued they hurt Sydney’s nightlife, and led to the closures of licensed premises.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she supported the reinvigoration of Sydney’s entertainment districts, but that the focus should remain on community safety.
“Sydney has transformed dramatically over recent years, and we need to ensure we have a strong and vibrant night-time economy that reflects our position as Australia’s only truly global city,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said the introduction of more public transport – including the soon-to-be-completed light rail project – would make after-dark movement through the city safer and easier.
The lockout laws were this year probed by a NSW Parliament joint select committee this year.
The committee, which comprised politicians, police and health authorities, recommended the laws be scrapped everywhere but Kings Cross. At the time, Sydney nightlife identities predicted adopting the recommendations would usher a new era for the city.
Liberal MLC Natalie Ward said it was time to take stock of the laws.
“We believe we can continue to maintain and in fact increase safety while we also reinvigorate Sydney’s night-time economy,” she said.
St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst described the proposed changes as “incredibly disappointing” in a submission to the committee.
The submission described a “conveyor belt of carnage” in the Emergency Room of the hospital in the pre-lockout laws time.