Sydney's lockout laws scrapped

The Lansdowne Hotel in Chippendale now has a lockout-free 5am licence. 

The NSW state government has announced it will repeal Sydney’s lockout laws from the CBD’s entertainment district.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she hopes the move will boost Sydney’s nighttime economy, after a parliamentary committee inquiry was held earlier this year. 

“While we will await the committee’s report, I agree it’s time to enhance Sydney’s nightlife,” Berejiklian said in a statement to AAP. “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that.”

The 1:30am lockout will be lifted in most parts of the CBD, except King’s Cross, where the deaths of two teenagers by one-punch deaths in 2014 were the reason for the laws’ introduction. 

“Although we are disappointed the Kings Cross precinct has not been included as part of these changes, we are committed to working with the government and stakeholders on future changes to ensure Kings Cross returns to an area of burgeoning arts, culture and music,” Solotel CEO Justine Baker told the Shout, after she and Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes presented to the inquiry in August. 

Almost 200 venues have reportedly shut down since the lockout laws were introduced four years ago, driving out the creative communities that once fuelled Sydney’s nightlife, music and cultural scene.

While the result isn’t what groups protesting the laws, like Keep Sydney Open and Night Time Industries Association, hoped for, they, small business owners, and hospitality professionals around the city have welcomed the news. 

“This is going to give parts of the city’s nightlife a unique opportunity to work with the community and the Government to rebuild a vibrant and thriving future for our night time in the city area - but the work isn’t done yet,” says Night Time Industries Association chair Michael Rodrigues. 

“The Government’s inquiry into Sydney’s night time, shed light on many issues, including the reputation damage done to Sydney as a whole, due to how downgraded our nightlife culture has become. We’re keenly looking forward to the report from this inquiry due 30 September which we expect will more fully address the suite of reforms needed to unlock the power of Sydney’s night time economy,” said Mr Rodrigues. 

While the nighttime industry will take years to heal, venues are already capitalising on their new lockout-free licences. 

Now open until 5am, Sydney’s longest-serving live music venue, the Lansdowne, has introduced a weekly late-night music event.

The Lansdowne Hotel co-owner Jake Smyth comments on the collaboration: “When we re-opened our doors in 2017 it was said that we were returning from the grave, anew. We’ve always believed in the power of live music in resurrecting Sydney’s culture and creating killer vibes.

“We’re stoked to partner with The Baron Samedi to present Saturday nights. Events that run till 5am and get people dancing till dawn is exactly what Sydney nightlife needs.”