Syd­ney’s red tape dis­tricts

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SNITCH - BEN PIKE

A BAR owner banned from op­er­at­ing a pin­ball ma­chine in­side his venue. An 80-year-old grand­mother de­nied en­try to a pub be­cause she doesn’t have ID. Po­lice get­ting out a ruler to mea­sure the size of “se­cu­rity” let­ter­ing on a bouncer’s cloth­ing.

Lock­out laws orig­i­nally de­signed to curb vi­o­lence, and nanny state coun­cil rules, have de­scended into bu­reau­cratic farce where fun is the main ca­su­alty.

Now ho­tel and bar own­ers sick of NSW’s sti­fled night-life are unit­ing to take on the state gov­ern­ment, coun­cils and ridicu­lous rules.

The new Night-time In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sents more than 100 venues in NSW, in­clud­ing Solo­tel, Cen­tury Venues, Mary’s Group and the In­de­pen­dent Bars As­so­ci­a­tion.

They are push­ing to wind back lock­out laws, cre­ate a NSW cab­i­net min­is­ter for the night-time econ­omy, cut coun­cil red tape, have a one-stop shop for noise com­plaints and re­view NSW plan­ning laws.

At the event’s launch on Wed­nes­day night, Night-time In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion chair Michael Ro­drigues said venue own­ers have to po­ten­tially deal

with seven dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies about noise com­plaints. “Syd­ney is fast be­com­ing a re­tire­ment vil­lage for young peo­ple,” Mr Ro­drigues said.

“Ban­ning pin­ball ma­chines, disco balls and rock bands, you have to say what is next? Time is run­ning out for politi­cians to step up and get rid of th­ese crazy rules.”

Mr Ro­drigues said he ex­pects the num­ber of venues they rep­re­sent to in­crease in the com­ing weeks.

An­gry group mem­bers re­vealed a long list of red tape mad­ness af­flict­ing venues to the Sun­day Tele­graph.

Solo­tel CEO Jus­tine Baker, whose venues in­clude the Kings Cross Ho­tel, The Sheaf, Chophouse Par­ra­matta and Clock Ho­tel Surry Hills, said the in­dus­try is over reg­u­lated.

“About six months ago we had an 80-year-old woman come up to the Kings Cross Ho­tel with her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to cel­e­brate some sort of event,” she said.

“She didn’t have any ID and so, be­cause of the laws about scan­ning IDs, we had to deny her en­try. We had no choice. We used to bite our tongues about this sort of stuff. Not now.”

It is the first time a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of big ho­tel and bar own­ers have banded to­gether to push for change.

On Thurs­day the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil’s in­quiry into the Mu­sic and Arts Econ­omy in NSW hands down its re­port. The in­quiry heard ev­i­dence about the lock­out laws — in­tro­duced af­ter an out­cry at late night al­co­hol fu­elled vi­o­lence around bars and clubs — and is ex­pected to ad­dress the is­sue, along with NSW’s dy­ing live mu­sic scene.

In the same week NSW Par­lia­ment will also de­bate the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers party’s Re­peal of Lock­out Laws Bill.

A gov­ern­ment spokesman said yes­ter­day: “The liquor law changes were in­tro­duced in 2014 in re­sponse to con­cerns about al­co­hol-re­lated vi­o­lence and struck a bal­ance be­tween those con­cerns and the night-time econ­omy. The NSW gov­ern­ment wel­comes feed­back from in­dus­try, the com­mu­nity, law en­force­ment and the health sec­tor.”

Emer­gency medicine ex­pert Dr Gor­dian Fulde, who pushed for the lock­out laws, said so­ci­ety must con­sider the im­pact of any changes.

“The reg­u­la­tions came about to stop peo­ple spilling out onto the street where we would see so much al­co­hol fu­elled vi­o­lence,” he said on Fri­day.

The NSW Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion re­mains op­posed to any changes to the lock­out laws, say­ing they have pre­vented thou­sands of as­saults and in­juries.

The Bur­row Bar in Syd­ney’s CBD, one of the venues which has fallen vic­tim to NSW’s sti­fling en­ter­tain­ment laws.

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