Sydney lockout laws have been the subject of debate since they were first introduced in February 2014 by former New South Wales premier, “Casino Mike” Baird. The laws came about as a devised solution to the carnage that ravaged the streets of notorious nightlife areas in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross.
Whilst many people had turned to Sydney’s entertainment hubs for a great night on the town filled with food, drink, dancing, and live entertainment, many were getting more than they had bargained for. Local hospitals, including St. Vincent’s, recall such a time where violent incidents resulted in what felt like a “conveyor belt of ambulances” at the weekends coming in from the Kings Cross nightlife scene. Such incidents were attributed to drugs and alcohol.
Because of such events occurring at a rate that was unsustainable and tarnishing the reputation of the CBD and Kings Cross areas, where the Sydney lockout zone is heavily focused, pinning them as violent areas, legislators took to campaigning. Their platform was moving closing time to 3:00am and disallowing new patrons from entering the establishment beyond 1:30am. Even those who sided with the nightlife industry, and were weary of such laws negatively affecting establishments therein, found themselves standing on the same side of the fence as those lawmakers. The vote passed as people came to see the Sydney lockout laws as the only possible way to move forward from the violence of the past.
How should you feel about the Sydney Lockout Laws?
Well, in many ways, they don’t directly impact the average person. In saying that, many people feel over-policed and treated like children who can’t be trusted to keep their hands out of the cookie jar. Instead of coming up with a way to keep the cookies, and violence, under control, lawmakers have completely removed the cookie jar from the equation. Many people feel that such a solution, taking the “night” out of “nightlife”, essentially, undermines them as adults with the ability to make their own choices and do their own self-policing.
Can people adopt a self-policing attitude?
St. Vincent’s hospital has stated that there hasn’t been a single case of serious head injury as a result of alcohol (where the victim was drinking, the assailant was drinking, or both) since the institution of the lockout laws. Sydney lockout laws statistics released in early 2017 and conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that there’s been a 49% drop in non-domestic assaults in Kings Cross and a 13% fall in the other CBD areas.
Before you get excited about the reduction in violent incidents in the lockout areas, there’s more to consider. Firstly, the statistics showing such a drop could be attributed to the fact that there’s also been an 80% drop in pedestrian traffic in such areas. Therefore, the reduction in assaults may not even be attributed to the lockout laws in the first place. It must also be considered that whilst Kings Cross and the CBD have seen a lower rate of violence, areas adjacent that aren’t affected by the laws, such as Newtown, have seen an increase. This shows that the violent patrons will always be violent, as they have simply just moved somewhere else.
What impact have the Sydney Lockout Laws had on the economy?
Staples of Kings Cross and the CBD are being forced to close their doors because of such a turbulent time for business economics after the introduction of the lockout laws. One such place, Piccolo’s, which was the oldest coffee bar in Kings Cross and had stood for 65 years, held the laws directly responsible for their closing. There simply aren’t enough patrons to keep these establishments afloat. Plus, police are treating the local establishments like prohibition agents in the United States in the 1920s. The over-policing is resulting in a further decrease in customers because people are scared. One such incident of over-policing involved a 15-police officer storm into Club 77 to investigate whether they were breaking the lockout laws. No arrests were made, meaning no laws were broken however, Club 77 suffered from a loss of income and a tarnished reputation.