Actor and winemaker Sam Neill says Sydney’s lockout laws have made the city “a pointless place” and “taken the guts out of the nightlife” in a wide-ranging critique of the Baird government’s policies.
The Piano and Jurassic Park star, who divides his time between Sydney and New Zealand, where he owns the Two Paddocks winery and vineyards in the Central Otago region, also called the end of greyhound racing in NSW “a crime” during yesterday’s announcement that the annual Tropfest short film festival was relocating to Parramatta in western Sydney for the next three years.
The Kiwi actor said that when he first came to Sydney in the 1970s, “it was such a vibrant and exciting place then”.
“Sydney, in particular then, seemed to me to be about the most vibrant city in the world. I think a lot of that vibrancy is being sucked out of that place. And I particularly lament… this lockout, which has taken the guts out of the nightlife of Sydney,” Neill said.
“And Sydney without nightlife is kind of a pointless place. I don’t want to see Adelaide being a place to go for a good weekend. I don’t see the point of that.”
His comments echo a range of critics of the laws, which are currently being reviewed by former High Court judge Ian Callinan. The review was looking at the effectiveness of the 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drink legislation in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross, as well as the state-wide ban on take away liquor sales after 10pm. The findings due to be released within weeks.
Submissions to the review included Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes, who said the laws forced him to turn away the likes of Madonna, Prince, Drake, Ed Sheeran and the Arsenal football team from his pubs when they tried to gain access following evening performances after 1.30am.
Sam Neill said “Kings Cross is one of the saddest places I’ve ever been to now”, adding that “every great city needs a Kings Cross”.
“Instead of making the streets safe, they’ve just stopped the streets,” he said.
Neill then turned his attention to the Baird government’s decision to end greyhound racing by July 2017, saying “just shutting down the dogs is a crime”.
The actor, who played Gina Rinehart’s father, Lang Hancock, in the TV series House of Hancock, and turns 69 next month, said greyhound racing was “a very valuable part of working class culture” and Australian culture.
“Instead of cleaning up the dogs, which would be the sensible thing to do, they’re killing the dogs, and I think that’s lamentable,” he said.
“How many thousands of dogs are going to be destroyed? How many jobs are going to be lost? How many livelihoods are going to be lost?
“I think that’s regrettable.”
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