Alcohol trading deregulation the Kings Cross / Darlinghurst experience.
Background: It was argued in the late 1980s that market liberalisation would foster a European cosmopolitan drinking culture, liberalise the market resulting in increased revenue, and reduce episodic drinking. Criticisms of the ‘lockout laws’ refer to a partially deregulated night-time economy. (NSW Liquor Act 1982 to July 2008.) The Howard Federal Government went on to make alcohol an ‘ordinary commodity’ under its neo-liberal economic principles, and under its National Competition Policy late-night licensed venues flourished and the ‘night-time economy’ was born (Wadds 2013). So when we argue for our freedoms and an unfettered night-time economy, we are also arguing for a neo-liberal night-time economy (Hayward and Hobbs 2007).
This argument against regulation is slightly uncomfortable, particularly when we argue for regulation in so many other parts of our lives to provide security. In this case it can be constructed to do the bidding of the alcohol industry and venue owners (good and bad).
The timeline below shows how reducing the hours during which on-premise alcohol outlets can sell alcohol late at night can substantially reduce rates of violence. Increasing trading hours tends to result in higher rates of harm, while restricting trading hours tends to reduce harm. In 2016, a resident 'Survey of New Businesses in Kings Cross' showed over 70 new businesses opening in Kings Cross since introduction of Last Drinks measures in February 2014. Kings Cross is no longer an alchohol mono-culture but a vibrant and diverse precinct.
A series of robust, well-designed studies from Australia are supported by research from Norway, Canada and the US, with the only exception being somewhat inconsistent findings from a relaxation of restrictions in England and Wales. The evidence of effectiveness is strong enough to consider restrictions on late-trading hours for bars and pubs as a key approach to reducing late-night violence in Australia. The Timeline also shows how, despite the evidence, the powerful liquor and gaming industries are relentless in agitating and lobbying to remove trading restrictions. Research notes links between AHA donations and policy.
Timeline: the costs to inner-city communities when alcohol trading is deregulated
Liquor Act 1982 to July 2008: a court based system regulates alcohol. Courts grant licences, punish breaches and allow appeals. Using the review provisions in this act, residents introduced the successful Newcastle Restricted Access Hours trial. (Introduced in April 2008 and still current.) Those inside can stay until closing time.
The industry lobby continues to cry this is anti-competitive and adds 'red tape' and wins the public policy debate.
2004: Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training introduced. Despite mandatory training the number of assaults has continued to increase.
2006: Police ‘data linking’ program identifies problematic hotels. Liking data figures are not publically available. In 2008 legislative amendment creates special conditions for “declared premises”. Figures are released as the “100 worst pubs” list. The official list is the “top 48” voilent premises.
Today, BOCSAR data figures linking assaults to premises are used for Level 1 (over 19 violent incidents/year) or Level 2 (12 to 18 incidents). Information is restricted to about 30 venues.
2006: Liquor outlet concentrations and outlet density is critical in terms of minimising alcohol-related harm in neighbourhoods. (BOCSAR Report, April 2006.)
2006: Kings Cross and other city areas are declared saturated with Licenced Premises. (City of Sydney, 16 Oct 2006)
2007: Kings Cross Liquor Accord says “Kings Cross is a market-driven entertainment zone, and it is unreasonable to restrict development”.
2007: New Liquor Act (from July 2008): an administrative system granting licences and dealing with disciplinary complaints — the Casino Liquor and Gaming Control Authority — replaces the judicial system. Proceedings for offences are heard in the Local Court. Enforcement is by police and inspectors employed by the department.
Council has a referral role in the liquor licence application process. Council may be involved in two stages: preparing a Community Impact Statement, and during the assessment of a liquor licence application. A Community Impact Statement is required only for some types of liquor licence applications.
2007: Small Bars legislation: ‘small’ bars (up to 120 patrons) can serve alcohol without a license, and restaurants can serve alcohol without meals.
2007: Sydney City Council Late Night Trading DCP introduces Late Night Trading precincts in Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Oxford Street. There is a rapid intensification of premises. Many appear in the 100 most violent venues list (2008).
2007: More than 1 in 7 assaults in NSW are in licensed venues in the city with 574 in Potts Point (which takes in Kings Cross) and 443 in Darlinghurst (lower Oxford Street precinct). Most alcohol related crime occurs directly outside of licensed premises. A concentration of premises leads to ‘bar hopping’ associated with heavy drinking.
2008 to 24 February 2014: The impact of alcohol de-regulation on Kings Cross / Potts Point
The new City of Sydney Late Night Trading DCP between 2008-2012 and the new Liquor Act (effective 2008) began an unrelenting cycle of violence, aggression, noise and bodily excrement of all forms. In 2007/8 City of Sydney Council released a Late Night Trading Development Control Plan introduced Late Night Trading Precincts in Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Oxford Street, essentially loosening the regulation of premises serving alcohol, allowing them to apply for licenses to trade for 24 hours with increased numbers of patrons. Residents had to navigate a morass of legislation and endless applications before council. T
By marketing Kings Cross as an ‘Entertainment Precinct’ City of Sydney Council and NSW State governments actively and tacitly supported the proliferation of licensed premises. Bars, night clubs, pubs (who pay more rent) competed with and overtook mainstream daytime and evening businesses. The average visitor was aged 17 to 24, often vulnerable, drunk and aggressive eager to experience this new ’24-hour alcohol playground’, now promoted by Council as an ‘Entertainment Precinct’ that had nothing to do with live music.There was a rapid intensification of premises.
2008: Premier Nathan Rees introduces special restrictions for a list of the top 48 hotels for assaults of a 100 most violent list. Penalties include 3am lockouts and serving alcohol in plastic cups after midnight. Many appeared in the 100 most violent venues list (2008). Council declared a freeze on new licences in 2009 —3 years after the declaration of saturation.
The cost to tax payers, local government and the State of continuing to subsidise the alcohol industry is immense. It is important to note that most alcohol related crime occurs directly outside of licensed premises. A concentration of premises leads to ‘bar hopping’ associated with heavy drinking. In Kings Cross from 2008 to 24 February 2014 the cost of subsidising ‘night life’ included hundreds of extra regular police, plus the Riot Squad and specialist licensing police in the Extended Hours Trading areas. Traffic, intoxication and drug dealing was displaced into other areas (Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Woolloomooloo.
Major reports came out steadily over this period and were largely ignored. In 2009 an NDARC Report into Cumulative Impact, Saturation and Density commissioned by City of Sydney was critical of the City’s trial controls regime and ‘diversity of service’ argument. The problem with alcohol is its availability. (NDARC for City of Sydney, May 2009.)
2009: Report into Cumulative Impact, Saturation and Density finds that alcohol-related crime rose significantly between 2001 and 2006. The increase was 40 per cent in Kings Cross and 20 per cent in Darlinghurst. NDARC is critical of the City’s trial controls regime and ‘diversity of service’ argument. The problem with alcohol is its availability. (NDARC for City of Sydney, May 2009)
2010: Sydney City Council ignores the NDARC Report recommendations. (Feb 2010)
2010, December: Wilson Duque Castillo bashed to death by bar Security staff outside the Trademark Hotel, Darlinghurst Rd, KIngs Cross (at the Coca-Cola Sign).
In Kings Cross these young men lost their lives between 2010 and 2013:
• Wilson Duque Castillo, age 20 - killed 2010 in Kings Cross
• Calum Grant, age 21 - killed 2011 in Kings Cross
• Thomas Kelly, age 22 - killed 2012 in Kings Cross
• Daniel Christie, age 23 - killed 2013 in Kings Cross
Others died from ARV in Darling Harbour or CBD precincts (for example • Lucio Rodrigues, age 24 - killed 2013. Council and state government conced that there was a serious and very dangerous problem. It took these deaths and leadership to move these concerns into legislative action when the successful Newcastle measures were applied to Sydney’s CBD and inner-city.
2012, January: Three Strikes Offences Act gives powers to alter a hotel’s licence conditions, cancel or suspend licences for up to 12 months after three offences have been recorded. The Three Strikes system is so convoluted and complex it takes a mighty effort to have just 1strike registered against any venue. Currently there are 21 licensees fighting strikes in court.
2012, March: The Late Night Trading DCP is incorporated into the new City Plan. Residential amenity is removed from former mixed use zonings.
Zoning Conflict: a well-documented planning conflict exists with the new extended hours trading (euphemistically called the “late night economy”) encouraged under a DCP with a trial system giving priority to alcohol interests. After midnight these areas are a mosh-pit of 25,000 screaming, drunk suburban kids (some say 30,000).
2012, 19 May: Three Strikes register (accessed ) breached for Licensee permit intoxication on licensed premises are Kensington Bowling Club; Moama RSL & Citizens Club, Echuca; Woody's Surf Shack, Byron Bay; St Kilda Hotel, Armidale; Shellharbour Workers Club and Belmore Hotel, Maitland. None of the "48 most violent" are breached.
2012, May: Mayor Clover Moore’s Newsletter declares Kings Cross a weekend “special event precinct” — like the footy grand final or New Year every weekend.
2012, July: Thomas Kelly killed in Victoria Street outside the Goldfish Bar.
2013, March: ‘Contemporary Comment Responses to the Death of Thomas Kelly: Taking Populism Seriously’ by Julia Quilter in Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Vol 24 No 3. Abstract: This comment explores the range of responses to Thomas Kelly’s death. Mr Kelly suffered fatal head injuries after being king-hit in the face when walking down the street in Kings Cross, Sydney, in July 2012. It is argued that these responses form a populist and far more nuanced response than the more typical ‘law and order’ reactions of state governments witnessed in the past, making us think about taking populism more seriously. Full article http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/CICrimJust/2013/8.pdf
2013, December: Bada Bing Nightclub on Darlinghurst Road stripped of all-night trading licence. Reasons for club losing all-night trading licence: strippers driving home drunk, bikie shootouts on the dance-floor, security guards assaulting rowdy patrons and staff doing shots at the bar. Bada Bing is forced to lock out patrons from 2am and close at 3am.
2014, 21 January: NSW government announces intention to introduce the successful "Newcastle measures" to CBD and Kings Cross pubs. The measures include restricted entry after 1.30am and stop the sale of alcohol after 3am. Entertainment (ie poker machines) can trade later. See: Premier Barry O'Farrell announcement at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/barry-ofarrell-announces-tough-laws-to-combat-alcoholfuelled-violence-20140121-315wg.html
2014, 30 January: Parliament passes the Last Drinks legislation
2014, 24 February: Last Drinks Restrictions commence. The NSW Government trial of modest 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks addressed years of violence on the streets. The laws are aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross. Measures mean no shots after 10:00pm, no new customers after 1:30am and no alcohol served after 3:00am. That is, there is a small two hour closing window and any live music can continue.
2014, 4 June: Wentworth Courier, Resident groups praise new alcohol laws. Helen Crossing said the new laws had “calming, quietening effect”. Jo Holder said “I don’t think Kings Cross has been shut down; I think Kings Cross has been rejuvenated.”
Kings Cross has seen a huge 50% reduction in violent assaults. Police, doctors and nurses all hail it a success, and residents report a newfound safety and order in our neighbourhood. BOCSAR will undertake a review in 2-years being the minimum estimate to obtain reliable data. In contrast, the Australian Hotels Association through their pubs, clubs, venues and perhaps some political candidates, are pressuring to end the lockouts, a move that will see a return to round-the-clock 24-hour drinking and bring the cycle of violence onto our streets again as well as gambling.
2014, July: ID scanners commence operation.
2014, October: Bourbon Hotel and former Swans Club to be sold as one entity.
2014, December: Last Drinks laws lifted for New Year’s Eve in Sydney.
2015, 12 Jan: Announcement by Minister for Alcohol of an early Baird Government review of Lockout laws dismays one-punch victim’s family.
2015, 13 January: Press conference outside St Vincent's Hospital where Health professionals, police advocates and anti-alcohol campaigners have slammed a possible early review by the New South Wales government into its controversial lockout laws.
2015, 12 May: Joffrey Van Asten says his patrons are at ease, more polite and in greater number in the post-lockout Kings Cross. Cafe and restaurant owners praise Kings Cross lockouts as trade spikes on clean streets, Daily Telegraph
2015, April: A Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) report showed an immediate and substantial reduction in assault in Kings Cross (down 32%).
2015, 13 April: “The Bourbon… is likely to be converted to apartments”, Iris Capital opts for Bourbon in Kings Cross, Australian Financial Review
2015, 13 January: Sydney Morning Herald, Advocates attack plans to review Sydney lockout laws, SBS News and Lockout laws: early Baird review dismays one-punch victim’s family, 12 Jan 2015
2015, 20 Nov: Proof transcript of Senate’s Economic Reference Committee enquiry into Personal Choice and Community Impacts. Two members of 2011RA testified before the Committee re the benefits of the Last Drinks laws in the Kings Cross area (see pp. 30-38)
2015, 16 April: Assaults in Kings Cross and Sydney CBD drop 32% after year of liquor law reforms: The Guardian reports a Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) report showed “an immediate and substantial reduction in assault in Kings Cross (down 32%)”.
2015, 10 Feb: Lockout advocate urges community to stand firm, Tony Brown, the Newcastle lawyer, who pioneered the alcohol lockout laws ... Community engagement can defeat the power of the liquor industry ... Tony Brown tells Laura Corrigan about the personal cost of his activism. Read more: http://postcode2011.com.au/home/lockout-advocate-urges-community-to-stand-firm.html
2016, 11 Feb: Former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC has been appointed to oversee a review into Sydney's laws (implemented on 24 Feb 2014) restricting venues in Kings Cross, Darling Harbour, The Rocks and parts of the CBD. The measures were implemented in response to fatal one-punch attacks. The Callinan Review set up to "provide an independent, open and transparent assessment of the state's liquor laws, focusing on the facts, to advise the NSW Government on the future of these laws in NSW’. The review's terms of reference include examination of the impacts on alcohol-related violence and other harms and impacts on business, patrons and community amenity and a review of alcohol take-away hours.
2016, 21 March: Dr Anthony Grabs, SBS TV, 'The Loop', Public Health benefits St Vincents Hospital Emergency Dept (serving KX and the CBD) has analysed figures for facial / jaw fracture show pre-lockouts 145 patients; 2 years after lock-outs 58 patients. We need more analysis of the Impact of hours of take away sales to 10pm across NSW.
2016, 21 March: Ross Fitzgerald veteran alcohol policy analyst writes (SMH), “this modest 2 hour reduction in availability has reduced assaults in KX by 40% and in Sydney’s CBD by 20%.” Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-all-sydneysiders-should-be-grateful-for-the-lockout-20160319-gnm9ts.html
2016, 20 March: "Kings Cross Open for Business" Survey of New Businesses in Kings Cross shows over 70 new businesses opening in Kings Cross since lockouts. Members of 2011 Residents Association Inc conducted the survey in the area defined by the Liquor Act as the 'Kings Cross Precinct', in the week commencing 14 March 2016. > Download as pdf
2016. 4 April : Submission to Callinan Liquor Law review: https://2011residentsassociation.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/2011-residents-association-submission-to-liquor-law-review-040416.pdf
2016, 8 April: Sydney Morning Herald, Sean Nicholls, 'Five reasons Matt Barrie is wrong on Sydney's lockout laws' at https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/five-reasons-matt-barrie-is-wrong-on-sydneys-lockout-laws-20160408-go1drl.html
2016, 10 April: Kirsty Needham, SMH, reveals that the author of anti-lockout blog that caused trolls to turn on Ralph Kelly worked for John Ibrahim's girlfriend. Blogger Chris Sinclair was the events manager for model Sarah Budge's Kings Cross venue Crane Bar when he started the anonymous blog 'Surely Not'. Ibrahim operates Crane Bar in Bayswater Road KX. The bar adjoins World Bar, another vigorous anti-lockouts campaigner. Chris Sinclair’s anonymous blog alleged a conspiracy between the family of dead teenager Thomas Kelly and Crown Casino led to the lockout laws, and also attacks St Vincent's director of emergency Dr Gordian Fulde. The blog drove trolls to attack both the Kelly family and Dr Fulde. The blog posts were copied extensively by Matt Barrie in his submission to the independent review into the lockout laws last week. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/author-of-antilockout-blog-that-helped-turned-trolls-on-ralph-kelly-worked-for-john-ibrahims-girlfriend-20160409-go2dyx.html#ixzz4BWRp6dt6
2016, 16 April: Kirsty Needham, SMH, writes on links between libertarian ideologues Matt Barrie and Christopher Koch, and connections with the IPA also known as the Institute of Paid Advocacy. Matt Barrie runs Freelancer.com a borderless labour outsourcing site. Barrie's tirades coincided with submissions to the Callinan Review, a NSW legislative review of the lockouts falling due. Another libertarian the Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, initiated a "nanny state" inquiry in the Senate into the impact of alcohol restrictions on personal freedom. Barrie quotes Leyonhjelm in his anti-lockout tirades and in a submission to the Callinan inquiry. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/matt-barrie-companys-young-liberal-links-a-coincidence-not-conspiracy-20160415-go7fwq
2016, 29 August: Majority of voters back broader lockout laws across NSW, SMH poll shows, “A majority of NSW voters say the … ‘lockout’ laws in Sydney’s centre should be extended across the state and three-quarters of young people support existing laws, an exclusive Fairfax poll has found.” http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/majority-back-broader-lockout-laws-across-the-state-20160828-gr31t9.html
2016, September: Callinan Review of the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks measures is released. Ian Callinan considered more than 1,800 submissions and held almost 30 stakeholder sessions, including three roundtables into Sydney's night-time economy. Mr Callinan’s report states the lockout laws have made Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD safer and that they are valid.
However, he also states the government could consider making the following changes:
• Relax the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks measures for live entertainment venues to a 2am lockout and 3.30am last drinks for a two-year trial period.
• Extend the state-wide sale of takeaway alcohol from 10pm to 11pm.
• Extend the home delivery of alcohol from 10pm to midnight.
The Callinan Report, including its conclusions, is available at Liquor Law Review Report [PDF,1MB] and Liquor Law Review Report Volume 2 Appendices [PDF, 6MB]. Or http://www.liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au/Pages/public-consultation/community-consultation/independent-liquor-law-review.aspx
2016, 30 September: Impacts of changes to trading hours of liquor licences on alcohol-related harm: a systematic review 2005–2015. Claire Wilkinson, Michael Livingston, Robin Room
See at http://www.phrp.com.au/issues/september-2016-volume-26-issue-4/impacts-of-changes-to-trading-hours-of-liquor-licenses-on-alcohol-related-harm-a-systematic-review-2005-2015/ doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.17061/phrp2641644
2016, 14 December: Residents verdict on new liquor laws transform area for the better https://2011residentsassociation.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/residents-verdict-on-lockout-law-changes-wentworth-courier-14dec16.jpg
2017, 24 May: Legislation governing the “3 Strikes Rule” removes the automatic nature of a first strike for a breach by a liquor venue and reduced the types of breaches attracting a strike. (Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017). The changes, introduced with minimal notification to the public by Minister for Racing Paul Toole, give the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) authority to decide if a first strike — and subsequent strikes — are applied or not. Until now a strike would remain in place for three years. The changes will now permit a venue's licensee to appeal to ILGA after six months to have a strike removed for “good behaviour”. As well, the changes will also mean a strike will be attached to a venue's licensee instead of to the venue itself — further weakening the owner’s responsibility. In Kings Cross licencees may change like toilet paper. Why should motorists incur a fixed and non-negotiable penalty that lasts for three years and pub barons be exempt? ILGA is now a mere rubber-stamp entity which approves 100% of liquor licence applications, ignoring any objection from the Department of Health, Police and communities.
2017, 12 June, SMH: 'Advice kept secret for a year as pubs and clubs penalty scheme watered down', by Sean Nichols at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/advice-kept-secret-for-a-year-as-pubs-and-clubs-penalty-scheme-watered-down-20170612-gwp7dk.html
2017, 15 June, City Central: City of Sydney gives $75,000 ratepayer-funded grant to “improve nightlife in the city” by Ben Graham.
2017, 15 June, The Shout: L&G NSW reviewing community view process – so onus is on potential applicants to provide community impact statements.
2017, 17 June: Vancouver introduces Sydney-style lockout laws.
2017, 22 June, SMH: NSW Young Liberals launch fresh assault on NSW government over 'nanny state' lockout laws.
2017, 29 June, Bendigo Advertiser: "The 2am lockout laws had improved safety in the Bendigo CBD…"
2017, 30 June, ABC: “Communities losing ground in war against liquor giants.’ By Sophie Scott.
2018: License, A., Edwards, A * Bevan T. (2018). Measuring the Australian Night Time Economy 2016-2017. Prepared by Ingenium Research for the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors. Melbourne: Australia.
2018, 25 October: NSW Upper House member Robert Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party) introduces the Liquor Legislation Amendment (Repeal of the Lockout Laws) Bill 2018.
2018, October: Night Time Industries Association is launched in a bid to "shift the narrative" surrounding that state of Sydney’s nightlife. NTIA aims to change the mindset that Sydney’s night-time is "plagued by violence, alcohol, police, lockouts and health" to a more positive view of “night-time economy, cultural value and city vibrancy”. Chair Michael Rodrigues (Time Out Australia). Board Kerry Glasscock (Sydney Fringe Festival), Justine Baker (Solotel Group), Rennie Addabbo (Sonos), Greg Khoury (Century Venues). See: https://ntia.org.au/
2019: Live music actually increases in Brisbane following their successful last drinks measures says a review of Brisbane Measures: https://theconversation.com/tighter-alcohol-licensing-hasnt-killed-live-music-but-its-harder-for-emerging-artists-121117
2019, 7 Feb: 2011 and DRAG Residents Associations' Submission to City of Sydney re Sydney’s Late Night Trading Draft Planning Controls
2019: Deloitte, ImagineSydney commissioned by Sydney City Council. Accessed 13 June 2019 http://images.content.deloitte.com.au/Web/DELOITTEAUSTRALIA/%7B725ffb22-cab6-47f4-9958-37305087ba5e%7D_20190211-cit-imagine-sydney-play-report.pdf
2019, May 14: Australian Financial Review, 'Green light for Sydney's 24-hour city'. City of Sydney's Late Night Trading plan passed at its monthly council meeting new controls that allow for 24-hour trading across the city centre and extended trading to 2am for low-impact food and drink venues on major high streets. The City of Sydney has already stated that their plans for 24-hour trading would be subject to the lockout and last drinks measures that apply to certain licensed venues in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross precincts. The changes will take effect in June. Businesses and venues will need to apply for additional trading hours through a development application process. https://www.afr.com/news/politics/green-light-for-sydney-s-24-hour-city-20190514-p51n78
2019, 29 May: Review of Sydney’s Night Time Economy announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian. A cross party parliamentary committee will consult with key police, health, community, and entertainment and live music stakeholders. The public is welcome to make a submission to the inquiry via the NSW Parliament website until July 2nd. The committee is chaired by government MP Natalie Ward. The recommendations are expected to be implemented by Premier Gladys Berejiklian. The committee will report its findings on September 30th. See: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=260
2019, 30 May: The World Today - ABC Radio, Sydney's lockout laws under review – at https://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/worldtoday/sydneys-lockout-laws-under-review/11160152
2019, 30 May: SMH, Nadine Ezard, "Don't lock out the facts on lockout laws: they've made this city safer." At https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/don-t-lock-out-the-facts-on-lockout-laws-they-ve-made-this-city-safer-20190529-p51sfm.html
2019, 20 June: BOCSAR calls on researchers at the University of Sydney to justify their claim, “that the Sydney lock-out laws made no impact on non-domestic assaults in the Sydney CBD”. BOCSAR says the claim conflicts with research findings published by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which have found a significant reduction in non-domestic assaults in the Sydney CBD attributable to the lockouts (the most recent finding showing a 13% decline). The Sydney University researchers have used a different statistical method, different geographical regions and a different time period than the BOCSAR studies.
2019, 23 June: Alcohol causes most overall harm of any drug says St Vincent’s Hospital (Melb) survey. https://www.smh.com.au/national/alcohol-causes-most-overall-harm-of-any-drug-says-study-20190620-p51zo3.html
2019, 2 July: Resident Submissions to Inquiry into Sydney's Night Time Economy from 2011 Residents Association and DRAG: we support the campaign by the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) and support their excellent and thorough submission to the committee. Resident groups argue: Let's change the conversation to Sydney is thriving; with better support for special live music venues and a strategy to support live musicians. The It is not fair to impose the bedlam of Kings Cross or lower-Oxford Street circa 2008 to 2014 on other precincts — such as CBD south and Haymarket or Ultimo.
2019, 9 July: SMH, By Lisa Visentin, ‘Opposition to lockout laws dominates submissions to inquiry’. “The views of business owners, publicans, musicians, DJs, and local residents are among the more than 270 submissions to the inquiry”. Total no in list is 59 of which an additional 10 already published are “confidential” and totally inaccessible to SMH and anyone else. Who are these publicans? They include Sydney Harbour Charter Vessel Liquor Accord who say their industry is on the "front line of the tourism industry." (No minutes of this Liquor Accord are searchable.) Other lobbyists behind the scenes are Michael Photios’ PremierState, a company whose client list includes the Justin Hemmes pub empire and other hospitality and gaming entities. Submissions include one from Matt Barrie of Freelancer a de-regulated labor market site and very much the an IPA darling. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/opposition-to-lockout-laws-dominates-submissions-to-inquiry-20190709-p525ig.html
Callinan Report v. Upper House Inquiry: The SMH submissions count is, “more than 270 submissions”. Mr Callinan considered more than 1,800 submissions and held almost 30 stakeholder sessions, including three roundtables into Sydney's night-time economy. Why the startling difference in submittor numbers? Is this Upper House Inquiry less trustworthy? Perhaps it is timing: Callinan Report release was Sept 2016 and now just less than 3 years we don’t like the recommendations?
2019, 8 Sept: NSW Premier preemptively announces "it is time to boost Sydney’s night-time economy" after a cross-party parliamentary committee review of the laws earlier in the year. The Premier will move to lift the 1.30am lockouts in the CBD entertainment district but the law will remain in place for Kings Cross. The committee's report is due 30 September.
2019,12 Sept: SMH a sensible and reasonable article by respected academic Kypros Kipri at https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/leaders-aren-t-acting-rationally-when-it-comes-to-lockout-laws-20190910-p52prp.html
2019, 30 Sep: Joint Select Committee on Sydney's Night Time Economy – report released.
2019, 1 Oct: SMH, Lockout laws expected to be scrapped by the end of the year.
“But emergency service workers and doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst warned that changes to the laws could lead to a return to the “brutal” conditions of 2014. ‘This [hospital] was a very brutal place in 2014,’ said Paul Preisz, the director of emergency at St Vincent’s. ‘Some of what we were seeing was life-changing violence, we saw deaths of young people that we haven’t seen since the laws came in and we would hate for this to come back.’ ”
DRAG and 2011 Residents Associations welcome the committee's recommendation to remove Kings Cross / Potts Point from the proposed 24-hour trading deregulation. The Report says, “The 2014 laws were both necessary and effective at the time they were implemented. They were effective in reducing alcohol-fuelled violence but also reduced foot traffic in the Kings Cross area. Kings Cross is not yet sufficiently changed to warrant a complete reversal.” We note and welcome the transformation of Kings Cross and Potts Point into a vital and thriving day, twilight and entertainment precinct from the drab and violent alcohol mono-culture it became from 2006 to February 2014. Those young lives were not lost in vain. We know there are measures other than alcohol de-regulation to bring back Sydney’s music and night life. We invite Sydneysiders to experience our lively and liveable neighbourhoods. However, we are very concerned that the Inquiry ignored expert advice from doctors, specialists and police not to remove the liquor laws in Sydney CBD. Sydney should never be promoted as a party destination at the expense of the safety of residents, visitors and workers. We note the report also recommends a review of the removal of the laws within 12 months.
2020, 19 Jan: SMH, Young woman punched by another woman as lockout laws end – SMH
“The night … ended unhappily for a young woman who was allegedly punched in the face by another woman at the Oxford Art Factory, a live music venue on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. Paramedics treated the injured woman at the scene, watched by a large crowd of bystanders…”
2020, 26 Jan: Daily Mail, Reveller, 22, clings to life with a fractured skull and serious brain injuries after alleged one-punch attack outside a Sydney nightclub – Daily Mail. Magistrate noted: “It’s a prevalent occurrence that a person, affected by too much alcohol, is involved in acts of violence on the streets”.
2020, 22 April: Brisbane Times by Tony Moore: A NSW Parliamentary Report found the number of injuries in Sydney nightspots had fallen during the time of the restriction measures. “There were 1921 fewer non-domestic assaults in the Kings Cross precinct – a fall of 52.8 percent between January 2014 and March 2019 as a result of the laws.
2020, May: City of Sydney in collaboration with the Committee for Sydney partnered with Ethos Urban, the Kings Cross Liquor Accord and Potts Point Partnership with a view towards developing a masterplan [“vision”] for the precinct. The intention is to deliver coordinated actions for development of a diverse nightlife that will attract local, domestic and international visitors back to the area, according to listing agent Mr Matt Pontey of Colliers.
2020, 1 June: Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority – Interim Guideline 6.1Density controls in the Sydney CBD Entertainment and Kings Cross. On 1 June 2020, the NSW Government lifted long-standing liquor licence freeze restrictions under Division 1A of Part 4 of the Liquor Act 2007 (the Act) from certain licensed businesses in Sydney CBD Entertainment and Kings Cross precincts (the ‘precincts’) to support a 24-hour economy for Sydney.
2020, 2 July: The home of the former Sapphire Lounge night club and Bada Bing strip club in Sydney’s Kings Cross is on the market In 2008 Mr Saleh, the longtime owner of the Sapphire Lounge, purchased the building, which has dual street frontages to Darlinghurst Road and Kellett Street, becoming Bada Bing’s landlord in the process. Mr Saleh had previously attempted to band together with other Kings Cross nightclub and bar owners for a joint sale of their properties along Darlinghurst Road to developers.Colliers agents said, “Recent moves by the City of Sydney to develop would likely help encourage investor interest in the property”. https://www.commercialrealestate.com.au/news/home-of-bada-bing-strip-club-in-sydneys-kings-cross-on-the-market-966234/
2020, July 2: Daily Telegraph, “Drunks flood emergency departments as post-lockdown celebrations get out of hand”, by Danielle Gusmaroli. A spike in the number of drunks pouring into hospitals as COVID-19 restrictions lift has emergency departments resembling rowdy pubs while putting staff and patients at risk. Hospital doctors say at least 20 per cent of people treated in Sydney emergency departments are there because of alcohol abuse. St Vincent’s ED admissions averaged 160 a day in June — predominantly patients presenting intoxicated — compared with 100 in May, 110 in April and March, and 200 before COVID-19.
Conclusion: Sydney is thriving.
In 2016 after the Callinan Report the NSW Government announces that Sydney at night is safe for all to enjoy. The last drinks measures, along with the other reasonable innovations contained in the 2014 Liquor Legislation, save lives and the current and very reasonable liquor legislation regulations should continue. In 2019 two independently commissioned reports showed that there is little evidence of damage and business carnage as claimed by the liquor and gambling industries:
- Deloitte report on Sydney’s Night Time Economy (2019)
- Lord Mayor’s report on Australian Night Time Economy (2018)
The evidence from resident groups shows that the modest restrictions enabled a diversification of day time and twilight industries that revitalised neighbourhoods and enhanced residential precincts.