Sydney’s disastrous lockout laws are reportedly being scrapped for CBD venues — in case you needed an excuse to go on a bender

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 17: Artist Scott Marsh paints a mural of NSW Premier Mike Baird commenting on the Sydney lockout laws on April 17, 2016. (Photo by Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)
  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reportedly announced a monumental about-turn on Sydney’s controversial 1:30am curfew introduced in 2014. As many as 176 venues and hospitality businesses have shut as a result of the laws.
  • However, while the regulations will be loosened in the city’s CBD, formerly infamous nightlife hotspot King’s Cross will reportedly remain restricted by the laws.
  • The Keep Sydney Open political party, which started as a grassroots protest movement against the then-Baird government’s lockout laws, has warmly welcomed the move.

After years of nauseating rhetoric about ‘coward punches’ and curfews for grown adults, the New South Wales government seems to have seen the strobe light — announcing a major backdown on its controversial lockout laws.

The state’s premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced on Sunday that the lockout laws — which were introduced in 2014 amid a spate of alleged violent alcohol-fuelled crimes — will be relaxed in Sydney’s central business district in order to boost the city’s nighttime economy, according to multiple news outlets including the ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s time to enhance Sydney’s night-life,” Berejiklian reportedly said. “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that.”

Business Insider Australia has approached the premier’s office for confirmation of the reports.

However, while a relaxation of the draconian laws is on the cards for the CBD, other entertainment precincts like King’s Cross and Oxford Street may still be subject to the lockout rules, the ABC has reported.

While questions remain and little detail has officially been released by the government, the Keep Sydney Open political party — which failed to win a seat at the 2019 NSW state elections but has become an influential movement representing the city’s youth and hospitality industry — has warmly welcomed the apparent backdown.

The lockout laws have been controversial, with a noisy coalition of business, consumers and artists united against the regulations — as well as, increasingly, criminologists and policymakers.

In 2017 the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) released details on an investigation finding that since the implementation of Sydney’s lockout laws, violent crimes had not been eradicated but merely shifted to other locations in the metropolitan area.

As many as 176 hospitality businesses and venues in the city have been closed as a result of the lockout laws — a finding which caused the Berejiklian government to agree to an inquiry into the impact of the 2014 laws.

The inquiry is due to hand down its verdict in late September, by which time the city’s residents and business owners will be hoping to have more clarity on exactly what the more relaxed environment will look like.

In the meantime, this correspondent has partying to do.