Max Hardwick-Morris was like thousands of Australians, out enjoying himself on Australia Day when he became the victim of a “coward punch”, an assault that could have killed him.
That sort of crime led to two deaths in Kings Cross and the introduction of Sydney’s lockout laws and preventing similar attacks is central to NSW premier Mike Baird’s justification for the laws.
But a groundswell of opposition to the city’s strict lockout laws forced the premier to announce a review yesterday. A 78-year-old former High Court judge from Queensland, Ian Callinan, will investigate the liquor law reforms. He is expected to hand his findings to the NSW Government in August.
Hardwick-Morris is one person with strong views on the issue.
On Wednesday, as he waited for a follow up appointment, having spent five days in hospital with concussion and a broken fibula after the attack, he took the premier to task in a letter he subsequently posted on Facebook telling Baird “you’re killing Sydney’s economy, you’re killing small business, you’re killing Sydney’s music scene, you’re killing Sydney’s reputation, you’re killing the youth’s relationship with the government and you’re killing fun”.
Hardwick-Morris, who includes his police and medical incident numbers in his letter, takes Baird to task for excluding the Star and proposed Barangaroo casino sites from the lockout zones.
“Excluding these venues/areas, coupled with the fact 13 venues have been given exemptions only to keep pokies room open begs so many questions to be asked about your government’s agenda,” he says, going on to mock the state leader for claiming that the city’s night-time economy is vibrant.
“You mustn’t have left your house past sunset in months within the confines of the CBD and surrounding areas as if you had you’d see it’s an absolute ghost town. It’s become an international joke,” he said.
“It’s hard to even consider violence on the streets within the lockout zone when no one’s out – if there weren’t any cars on the road, there wouldn’t be any road accidents but we’re not banning people from driving,” Hardwick-Morris says.
Baird’s post on the lockout laws has attracted nearly 23,000 comments, 9000 likes and more than 2600 shares since Tuesday, generating a surprising backlash against Australia’s most popular politician.
Fresh debate on the issue began after Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie wrote a scathing 8000 word attack on the lockout laws last week.
Here is Hardwick-Morris’ letter to the premier: