Matt Barrie is trolling the NSW premier with a campaign to buy him a bottle of Grange

The Kings Cross Hotel

The fight over Sydney’s lockout laws just got a little cheeky – and slightly weird – with Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie launched a crowdfunding campaign to send NSW premier Mike Baird an old and incredibly expensive bottle of Australia’s most famous wine, Grange.

And it’s not just any bottle of Grange, but specifically a bottle of the 1959 vintage which was at the centre of the controversy which led to the resignation of Baird’s predecessor, Barry O’Farrell.

1959 Grange and NSW premiers do not mix well.

An increasingly public stoush between the pair began last week when Barrie blasted the NSW government and Sydney’s lockout laws, arguing they were killing the night time economy, destroying the city’s soul and damaging its international reputation in an 8000 word post on LinkedIn that has been viewed nearly 1 million times.

“A succession of incompetent governments has systematically dismantled the entire night time economy through a constant barrage of rules, regulation and social tinkering,” Barrie wrote.

“If the Government was truly interested in your safety and not purely on a moralistic crusade, there are plenty of other things that are more dangerous to your health. Did you know that on average an Australian dies every three days in Thailand? You are far more likely to die falling over, out of bed or off a ladder than in anywhere near a licensed venue in Sydney.”

Today, Baird finally bit back, taking to Facebook in a post where he said “There has been a growing hysteria this week about nightlife in Sydney”.

Taking aim at Barrie, the premier said “Now, some have suggested these laws are really about moralising. They are right. These laws are about the moral obligation we have to protect innocent people from drunken violence”.

Barrie was quick to jump on and taunt Baird, saying: “I am glad you finally found your social media logins” and sharing his statistics about the resonance of his viral article.

Now he’s moved into the crowdfunding space to double down on Baird, including having a go at him for posting a photo in the new year of drinking wine on the beach, something that’s most likely illegal on beaches in the premier’s Northern Sydney electorate.

Barrie’s latest jibe has a very carefully pointed edge:

He’s set up a GoFundMe campaign to buy a 1959 Grange for the state’s leader and most likely donated the first $1000 of the $4800 target. Within the first hour, another $400 has trickled in.

Barrie’s GoFundMe pitch drips with sarcasm:

Let’s send New South Wales Premier Mike Baird a 1959 bottle of Grange Hermitage to thank him for the lockout laws.

The wine might be a little past it’s best, but it’s a sign of appreciation for all the great work you have done for small business, jobs, the economy, nightlife and social and cultural fabric of the city of Sydney.

Heck, the whole of New South Wales!

But this isn’t about drinking per se, or the fact that you can’t buy a bottle of wine after 10pm in NSW any more.

Baird became premier in April 2014 after his predecessor, Barry O’Farrell, resigned suddenly over a bottle of 1959 Grange. O’Farrell, who originally brought in the lockout laws, told a corruption commission hearing repeatedly that he hadn’t received the wine from a lobbyist after becoming premier, saying he certainly would have remembered if he had.

Despite repeated denials from O’Farrell, evidence mounted the next couple of days and when a hand-written thank you note from the premier emerged, it was game over.

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