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A big protest to 'reclaim the streets' from Sydney's lockout laws is being planned

Photo: Getty

Opposition to the NSW government’s lockout laws and alcohol restrictions is set to take to the streets next month in a major challenge to premier Mike Baird’s authority on the issue.

The premier is already besieged on social media, with nearly 13,000 people commenting, mostly negatively, on his Facebook post yesterday in support of the government’s policy as the debate over the city’s night life grows increasingly heated.

One man on the front line of the issue of alcohol-related violence, St Vincent’s hospital emergency department director, Professor Goldian Fulde, who was last month named senior Australian of the year, joined the debate today saying the laws had changed the city for the better, after Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie claimed last week that the laws had destroyed Sydney’s night life, reigniting the ongoing debate over the issue.

The debate took another turn over the weekend, to the alarm of inner-city wine buffs, after police accused a Sydney wine bar of encouraging “antisocial” behaviour.

And while the issue could be seen as a First World woe for inner city trendies, who feel they’ve been unfairly targeted while other assault hotspots, including Parramatta’s CBD, are largely ignored, it’s increasingly clear on social media that the backlash against the laws is strong, with #casinomike – an attempt to link Baird with The Star, which is exempt from the lockout laws, and James Packer’s pending casino at Barangaroo (which will also be exempt) – trending against the social media-friendly NSW leader.

And within 7 hours of lobby group Reclaim The Streets posting plans for CBD protest on March 19 through the streets of Sydney, more than 3000 people have said they plan to attend.

The protest’s rally cry reads:

This mobile protest festival meets 4pm Wynyard Park and moves onto the streets soon after.

Expect Techno, Drum n’ Bass, Psytrance, Regge, Hardcore, Deep House, Hip Hop, Band Stage and U.K. Garage/Grime across 11 stages, with more still to be confirmed.

Tell Casino Mike we want a free, music city. Not a music-free city.

Mike Baird is Australia’s most popular politician, who makes no apology for the moral stance he’s taking over the issue of alcohol-related violence, but it appears that the fight over Sydney’s alcohol curfew are set to test his electoral goodwill.

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