Sydney’s red tape districts
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.