Yesterday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that she would be repealing Sydney’s controversial lockout laws—a slice of Sunday news that saw the city’s creative community breathe a collective sigh of relief.
"It's time to enhance Sydney's night-life… we need to step it up," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement to the AAP.
"Sydney is Australia's only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that."
Since the introduction of the curfew and bar service cut-off times in 2014, night-time violence has waned and there are some non-insignificant figures that suggest lockouts served their purpose in making the streets a bit safer.
But there's always more to the story: a heap of businesses closed (about 176 venues), the city lost a whole lot of potential profit (about $16 billion), visitors to Kings Cross halved and crime seemed to shift over to areas just outside the lockout zone (reported incidents rose by 17% in Bondi, Newtown, Double Bay and Coogee).
The truth of the laws' real impact versus their effectiveness is a tough picture to paint—but one less quantitative thing seems to be true. We all lost faith in the potential of Sydney. Our urban culture has been suffering; Merivale boss Justin Hemmes called the lockouts “embarrassing” (apparently there was a time Madonna got locked out of Ivy for her own afterparty), and when The Economist listed Sydney as the third most liveable city in the world last week, no one was ready to own it.
With the shiny new light rail nearly ready to roll in the CBD, Berejiklian has laid out her intentions to remove lockouts in the CBD only. With “community safety” still a primary concern for the Government, the Premier indicated Kings Cross’s curfew would remain in place.
On Facebook, Keep Sydney Open said the news of the laws being repealed was "a huge moment" for Sydney. The group also pointed out the lack of information around the announcement.
"Years of campaigning has led us to this point. We should all be very proud of our dedication, hard work and persistence. There are still many details that are unclear. Why is Kings Cross left out? What about Oxford Street? When are closing times? Either way, we will all need to pitch in to rebuild our city’s nightlife, live music scene and local culture from this point on."
So, are Sydney's best days ahead of us? We sure hope so.
Image credit: James Adams.