Sydney is not dead. Sydney is not closed

Over the past few months, a small but vocal minority of people in Sydney have called for the Premier to wind back trading measures introduced to reduce alcohol-related violence. They present a narrow, exaggerated argument that Sydney is now ‘closed’ and that Sydney’s reputation as a global city is in shambles.

Some background.

Two years ago the New South Wales Government introduced laws that meant people cannot purchase alcohol from bottle shops after 10pm, and from bars and clubs in Sydney CBD and Kings Cross after 3am. They also introduced a one-way door policy (more commonly referred to as a ‘lockout’), which meant that people cannot move between venues in this precinct after 1.30am. These measures were introduced to keep people safe and stop the violence and deaths that were occurring as a result of alcohol use. Today a vast majority of people in New South Wales (68 per cent) support these measures.

Two years on and these measures are working. Alcohol-related assaults in Sydney have declined by 20.3 per cent and Kings Cross has seen a significant 45.1 per cent decline, there has been no displacement to other areas and businesses continue to grow, with liquor licence numbers continuing to increase across Sydney.

Those opposed to these successful measures allege the measures were a response to “hysteria” and a “knee-jerk reaction following the deaths of some young men”.

Let’s put to one side the seeming disregard and disrespect for those who lost their lives.

And ignore for the time being the hysteria and hyperbole inherent in the ridiculous claims that Sydney is ‘closed’ or the even more insensitive suggestion that the city is ‘dead’, complete with flower adorned casket.

But the suggestion that the introduction of modest trading hour measures was a knee-jerk reaction is completely false and conveniently ignores the evidence.

These measures are as far from a knee-jerk reaction as a policy can be. Reducing the availability of alcohol as a measure to reduce harms was raised with the State Government in 2003 at the New South Wales Alcohol Summit, 11 years before the measures were introduced.

These measures were advocated for after their introduction in Newcastle in 2008, six years before the legislation was implemented in Sydney.

And finally, they were again advocated for when a young man, Thomas Kelly, was killed 18 months before the measures were finally introduced in February 2014.

These measures have been advocated for because international and national research shows that they reduce violence.

In fact, when Yvette D’Ath, Attorney-General of Queensland, spoke about the introduction of similar measures in Queensland in Parliament just last week she said she has never seen so much independent evidence on a bill.

On Sunday thousands of people marched against the earlier closing times and lockouts in Sydney. Part of me thinks that it’s great that people decided to take time out of their lives to march for something that they believe in. But I can’t help wonder: what it is that these people have lost in their lives that they felt driven to protest?

Were they comparing themselves to people who have marched and protested over the weekend for Medicare, refugees or gender equality?

Do they genuinely think that alcohol is needed around the clock for their lives to be whole and fulfilled? And more importantly, if yes, what does this mean more generally about Australia as a society?

Sydney is not dead.

Sydney is not closed.

Sydney responded to significant levels of violence and deaths by introducing evidence-based measures that had been advocated for by experts, doctors, police and community members for many years. Instead of protesting against these measures, we should be congratulating members of government for doing what policy makers should do, fixing a significant social problem by introducing evidence-based solutions.

Premier O’Farrell and Premier Baird should be congratulated for doing what many politicians are afraid to do, introducing and maintaining measures that benefit the community ahead of significant vested interests. For that I congratulate them and I sincerely hope that the New South Wales Government continues to prioritise evidence ahead of hysteria.

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Caterina Giorgi

Caterina is the Director of Policy and Research at FARE.

This article has 54 comments

  1. Troy Jones on Facebook Reply

    Disturbing that there is no disclosure that the author lives and works in Canberra – employed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.
    Cat makes a good point, but it deserves honest perspective.
    With this context in mind, it concerns me that there is a cherry picking of data to make a point.
    A good point lost in unfair rhetoric.

  2. Caterina Reply

    Hi Troy, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Sorry that you missed my bio. It is at the bottom of the post. I’m also more than happy to provide you with links to any additional data and evidence if needed.

  3. Anna Reply

    The figures speak for them selves really and I personally this think this is a great thing

  4. Troy Jones on Facebook Reply

    Anna.. I agree.. But the duplicity harms the integrity of the claims.
    A canberran commenting on Sydney issues should have the decency to identify as an outsider.
    It clouds the issue and paints FARE in a misleading light, in my opinion.
    Completely unnecessarily too.
    Be bold.. Not sheepish!

  5. Rik Isaksen on Facebook Reply

    If we look at absolute numbers on violence only, yeah sure. But some perspective would be good.
    That SMH article on foot traffic is fluff opinion on (agreeably) flawed data – still not showing the bigger picture though

  6. Matt Baker Reply

    284 views represents the majority view, vs 10,000 people attending a protest, in the rain? Same line used by Dr Tony Sara, aspirant politician and President of the NSW Salaried Medical Officers Federation. How is this a minority? When was the last time 10,000+ people assembled to protest a state political issue in Sydney?

  7. Ross Reply

    More carefully negligent commentary from someone with no interest in live music and life.

    Very specifically this does not actually address the topic in the title being the death of Sydney’s late night and music culture – in fact it is notable only for all the contortions it takes to not address the topic it purports to address.

    There is no dispute that this firmly tackles certain injuries but comparatively Australians sustain far far more fatal injuries from chairs, sports, boating and fishing, farming and falling out of bed than from a night out listening to a band and dancing.

    It is akin to assessing that a cancer drug kills the cancer cells without acknowledging the side affect that it is so toxic it also kills the host. A shallow and meaningless contribution to the debate.

    This does not reconcile that the violent events that ‘triggered’ the lockout happened at 9 and 9:30pm well before the lockouts and the state bans on buying a bottle of wine after ten.

    It also does not address the needs and habits of those regularly work by day and relax by night, who attend and support live Australian music, who don’t have the option to relax by day.

    It does not address how the $600,000 of political donations being paid by the casinos to the political parties coincides with closing down live music well after the danger period of the one punch attacks.

    It does not address how the establishment exempts the soulless gambling barns that have infested this city since both parties got hooked on bleeding cash out of those who can least afford it with pokie machines.

    It makes no comment of the thousands who have lost their jobs and the decades of musical culture shot in the head by this Liberal government.

    I would wager that the great number of those who have voted to retain the lockout laws have not been out in the city in decades and have long lost the will to go out and live in the city at night.

  8. Smaz Reply

    The lock outs have killed Sydney nightlife and has taken away from today’s youth, the experience of growing up in what was one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Post Sydney 2000 Olympics, we were branded as the party capital of the world. Suffice to say, we’ve since lost our way.

    Sure there were a few odd sods who did the wrong thing but to place a blanket ban on night life (by ban, I mean restricting entry, service of alcohol and stopping music being played) is a sign of the government giving up on todays youth. We should expect more from our government especially when we can learn from other cities and how they handle nightlife and violence – the last time I checked, this is a globally shared issue.

    I’m no policy maker but I would think that better public transport at night, tougher laws on violent crimes and of course, better education re: alcohol and drugs in schools would be good start.

    People are protesting because they have been robbed of their civil liberty in having a good time and that’s un Australian.

    • Caterina Reply

      Hi Smaz, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think we need to ask ourselves – what makes a vibrant city? I hope that we can answer something other than alcohol. Many places in the world are vibrant and do not have alcohol available 24 hours such as Paris and cities in California. As for the policy suggestions, education and harsher penalties do not result in cultural change. The evidence shows that these measures alone do little if anything to reduce harms. The most effective measures are those that target the availability, price and promotion of alcohol.

      • Brian WC Reply

        What makes a vibrant city?

        Live music, dancing, people getting together and exchanging new ideas, sub-cultures, tribes, queer people, midnight movies, a bit of adventure, sex, risk and reward …

        All of which have been shut out by the lock out laws and the associated restrictions they entail. These laws don’t just restrict access to alcohol, they restrict access to culture.

        And THAT is why so many people are furious about the damage that this has done to our city.

      • David Greco Reply

        Maybe instead of splashing cash on this embarrassing agency we could start making some proper policies which take into consideration the views of the people actually being affected. The views of the people who are supposedly in the midst of a violence epidemic. Because geez I shake in my boots every time I set foot in the city after dark. Grow up

      • Ryan Reply

        As a Californian living in Sydney, even with 2am lockouts I can still get a cocktail, a dram of neat whisky, or a shot with friends until close. I actually have no problem with 1:30 lockouts, its the ancillary laws and absurdly prominent police presence that are killing any semblance of nightlife in this city.

        Bars can’t put out the cocktail lists they want to put out, restaurants with prominent wine lists are criticized for “encouraging binge drinking”, and people are made to feel like deviants due to police entering and scoping out venues. It’s horrible.

      • Damien Reply

        As a French citizen living in Sydney since 2009, I can tell without a doubt that you have no clue about Paris nightlife. Do yourself a favour and don’t mention any major European city in this debate.
        “Education do not result in cultural change”. You just lost all credibility.

  9. David Greco Reply

    Such ignorant views Catarina. Don’t go brandashing supposed statistics around about NSW residents views. You asked 354 people!! That’s embarrassing. I found a poll on the daily telegraph that asks more people (nearly 20 000 responses so far) the same question. And heck, it maybe even asks the people who are actually affected by these laws! Please fee free to post these results all over the mainstream news and media. 92% want to rid the laws! See how stats can be easily manipulated?

    You’re the leader of an embarrassing organisation. You’re the ones who are agenda based, not us.

    These people marched because their lives have changed. Most of these peoples livelihoods depended on the nightlife economy. Bar owners, restaurant owners, hospitality workers, musicians. They’ve all had they’re opportunities slashed by over 60%.
    Sydney IS closed.
    Sydney IS dead.
    I’ve lost my bar job. I’ve lost my weekly residency as a musician. How dare you ask such self centered questions about an issue that doesn’t even effect you.
    And for you to make judgements about the people who marched and what they’ve lost is, quite frankly, a disgrace. [This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards and Drink Tankhouse rules]

  10. lucas blanes Reply

    sydney is closed , sydney is boring and its not just that … the govern is cutting your freedom! the govern is already saying what you can drink at certain time of the night.. overcontrolling your life. very soon they should cut french fries from mac donalds because is killing our kids and this is true… i lived in kings cross one year.. there was not this caos that people is talking about.. yes have some fights sometimes but this happens everywhere in the word. the cops should be there to fix the problem , education should be given to the kids! And the worst think is that at that time when the city was vibrant the worst problem there was the lack of public transport ! no cabs, no train , no bus… if people cant go home people sometimes fight on the streets.. this can happen when you wanna go to a toilet or go home and you cant. you get angry! there were no clubs enough to get in too.. if you cant get in you stay around walking in the streets.. this was the problem, not the excess of parties , the absence of! the excessive price of drinks that make the kids drink a lot before going out because they cant afford a beer for 10 dollars in any club… same for me i think 10 dollars its not a reasonable price for a beer. better i buy a entire box and drink before go out. People go out to meet other people or to enjoy the night! go out to dance! to have fun! the minority that is agressive is a minimum percentage of people that need to be assisted. Sydney is locked! out and now the venues will be closed more and more… and the real state will sell all the properties to external investors that have money to buy the apartments in the city and australians and residents cant afford to have any place to live . Keep sydney open, keep your freedom before other laws to be imposed to cut more and more your freedom and you will feel at some point as a slave. be free! With order and law , ok, but with freedom to get in wherever you what without restriction. this is freedom!

  11. David Reply

    Hi caterina, can you tell me was this article in any way sponsored by, or are you affiliated with, the nsw liberal party? Thus indirectly by nsw taxpayers? If so, can you please send me the details, I would like my money back. You should be ashamed of yourself for sprouting such brainless propaganda.

  12. Ben Reply

    “But I can’t help wonder: what it is that these people have lost in their lives that they felt driven to protest?”

    How do you have the Job you have?

    You do research right? Maybe think about the context of the people who went to these protests and why they feel the way they feel. Maybe it has nothing to do with the act of drinking, maybe its more complex. Maybe these people think as though they are stuck in a hopeless tide of conservatism where the older generations completely disregard anything they say or think, because “they know best”, who call them lazy and entitled. When nothing but the inverse true. This is about freedom from an older generation of conservative arrogance and entitlement, who think that money and power is more important than humanity.

    But you know, go ask people.

  13. Dan Reply

    “But I can’t help wonder: what it is that these people have lost in their lives that they felt driven to protest?”

    “Do they genuinely think that alcohol is needed around the clock for their lives to be whole and fulfilled?”

    I’m actually horrified that respectable, good-intentioned people such as yourself would misrepresent the debate like this.

    If you took the time to listen to the opposing side, as I have done by reading your article, you would know that the Keep Sydney Open movement is fighting for alternative solutions towards violence, solutions that don’t shut down the cities nightlife and obliterate the hospitality industry. Live music, artists, creativity, “vibrancy” and the city’s sense of soul and fun has been shut down by these laws.

    These laws have reduced foot traffic, fact.

    Less foot traffic has impacted the night time economy, fact.

    Businesses are closing because of this effect, fact.

    It really disturbs me that the strongest arguments from the pro-lockout supporters constantly misrepresent, misinterpret or just flat out lie about what people are protesting about. What’s even more disturbing is that mainstream media is willing to publish your views with skewed statistics. 66% of NSW residents want laws out of approximately 300 people?

    How stupid do you think people are?

    If you were really as altruistic as your organisation preaches, you’d be looking for progressive, innovative solution that don’t involve annihilating an industry and depriving Sydney of it’s soul.

    It’s embarrassing that ordinary law abiding citizen can’t purchase a bottle of Chardonnay because your negative, prohibitionist agenda won’t allow it. Banning cars would reduce deaths too you know.

    Grow up.

  14. Eoin maher Reply

    Hi Caterina,

    Yet again we see distortion of figures and facts by those of you on the other side of this argument who only have interest in your own moral agenda and not facts or evidence. Sydney is an international joke because of these laws. Vibrancy with regards to nightlife is generally defined by young people involved in music and culture, which you quite clearly are not. Your quoting of a survey of 350 odd people statewide is not relevant. The fact that you live in Canberra and struggle to define the vibrancy of culture of a city which you don’t live in invalidates this opinion piece. We are all committed to tackling violence, but not on the terms of our supposed moral superiors living elsewhere.
    Keep Sydney Open.

  15. Grant Muir Reply

    “But I can’t help wonder: what it is that these people have lost in their lives that they felt driven to protest?”

    I’ll tell you what they have lost, jobs, businesses, freedom, creative outlets, opportunities.

    All things that COULD have been kept if SENSIBLE measures were taken to address issues around violence rather than this ridiculous “Can’t deal with the people, just get rid of them” approach.

  16. Brian WC Reply

    Couple of questions with respect to your figure of 68% of NSW supporting the lockout laws:

    (1) How was the question phrased and how was it framed? Can you please publish the questionnaire? How

    (2) Where was the sample derived from? Was it from a commercial research panel? What was the response rate? How was the survey introduced in the invitation? (I ask because I’m curious as to what steps were taken to ensure that sample wasn’t biased)

    (3) What was the sample structure? Was it stratified by age, gender and location within NSW? Was the data weighted to reflect actual population? Did you boost for sample in the inner city (i.e. the area where the lockout is actually in place)?

    (4) How does the 68% break down across different demoographics? Is it higher or lower in regional/rural areas vs. metro? Does it differ across age groups? Does it differ among respondents from the inner city? Newcastle?

    (5) Can we conclude that 32% of people in NSW (one third of the state) oppose the lockout laws? What if the survey were to be repeated now?

    I ask these questions because I want to know just how robust and defendable these stats really are.

  17. Arjan Reply

    Maybe you should come to my area (Oxford st) and see all the restaurants that are now vacant shops or convenience stores (I prefer a vacant shop). Nightlife here has considerable dumbed down and everything else suffers from it. All because things happening in 2 neighbourhoods north of here that has nothing to do with us.

    Maybe we need a gay casino :-/

  18. Jay Reply

    “benefit the community ahead of significant vested interests.”

    You are an absolute joke. Couldn’t possibly be any vested interests from property developers, the Star casino, or James Packer’s new Barangaroo developement, which along wih the Star is exempt from these restrictions, despite the Star being the most violent venue in Sydney. Yeah pat on the back to Barry and #casinomike.

  19. Darren Rodrigo Reply

    Thanks for your article Caterina,

    Look, I appreciate what you and FARE are trying to achieve and I understand that it comes from a good place.

    However, it is completely unsustainable to maintain that “a vast majority of people in New South Wales (68 per cent) support these measures” based on a sample size of 353 respondents.

    As an experienced researcher you know full well that any poll based on less than 1,500 – 2,000 respondents is not going to give you accurate data.

    Anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of stats, including undergraduates, knows that extrapolating the views of 353 people to those of 7.5 million, the entire population of NSW, is reckless and utterly absurd.

    Your ‘study’, and God hopes you didn’t pay Galaxy much for it, was of course then picked up but the SMH and the ‘Last Drinks Coalition’ with its deceptions as was reported as ‘fact’.

    Despite their own empirical problems, online polls are showing a vastly different picture with New ltd indicating that 92.06% of 24,454 respondents did not support NSW Lockout Laws and ABC showing that 85.87% of 6,736 respondents felt the same.

    As far as claiming that ‘Sydney is not dead, Sydney is not closed’. Have you walked through Kings X recently? I mean, this has been Sydney’s, historical entertainment and red light precinct for over 100 years.

    Now, 35 bars, clubs and restaurants have been closed and are being redeveloped into apartments. Kings X will never be the same again. It will in fact, become just like Sydney’s other 849 suburbs. We had something special, historical and of special cultural importance in Kings X and the ‘lockout laws’ have totally laid waste to it.

    Across Sydney, late night business has been smashed with the number being open late having been halved from 700 to 350.

    Literally hundreds of jobs have been lost across the hospitality and music sectors. Jobs which people like me used to rely on to pay their way through university. Full time hospitality professional have been forced to move to Melbourne.

    The frustration expressed at Saturday’s Keep Sydney Open Rally where 15,000+ people turned out in the heat and rain stems from the fact that we’re sick of being lied too (with stats like those in this article), sick of being accused of not caring and sick of being treated like kids and idiots by a cynical State Government that has one set of rules for billionaires and they casinos and another for the people that actually voted them in.

    We want proper data, well thought through policy and debate, free from emotional blackmail and falsehoods.

    New ltd poll:
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/emergency-services-want-lockout-laws-to-be-rolled-out-across-the-state/news-story/60f081af24b72e81457723be6b9a46cf

    ABC Poll:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-16/central-qld-venues-fear-more-problems-under-early-lockout-plan/7171048

  20. Alistair Erskine Reply

    50% of businesses in the cbd lockout zone that traded in the late night economy have closed.

    Sydney’s night time economy is dying, and the lockout laws have killed it.

  21. Rhys Reply

    The vocal minority you should be referring to Caterina, is the 68% of people who support the lock outs. A statistic that keeps being brought up by the media, however only included people across the state who specifically registered to be conducted in polls. A grand total of 253 people. Have a look at the poll in the Telegraph, with over 24,000 votes, and 92% against the lock outs. You can find it here:

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/emergency-services-want-lockout-laws-to-be-rolled-out-across-the-state/news-story/60f081af24b72e81457723be6b9a46cf

    We need unbiased reporting on the affect these lock outs have had on our city. We are certainly not going to get it from a director at FARE who lives in Canberra.

  22. Sean Condell Reply

    Dear Caterina,
    This article is absolute garbage. You have used a poll of 353 people to claim that “a vast majority of people in NSW” support lockouts. Caterina, you are a disgrace, your writing is pathetic and you should be ashamed of yourself.
    The majority of people who are opposed to lockout laws are also opposed to violence. The truth is, lockouts haven’t solved the problem. Rather, they have pushed the issue away from the streets and back into the family home.
    Did you know that domestic violence continues to rise in NSW?
    Did you know that the one punch deaths happened before midnight which mean that lockouts would have done nothing to prevent them?
    Did you know that before he came into power, Mike Baird declared Sydney the safest city in the world?
    There are better ways to tackle violence than this lazy, out-of-touch approach. Take a look at what some of the world’s cities are doing to be progressive and proactive (New York in Times Square, London in the West End just to name a couple).
    Caterina, you and this organisation have lost all credibility. How can we trust anything you say when you come out with this garbage.
    Maybe you should stick to issues concerning Canberra and leave us Sydneysiders to deal with our own issues.
    Kind Regards,
    92% of Sydney (according to this poll that had a whopping 23,700 more respondents than your poll http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/emergency-services-want-lockout-laws-to-be-rolled-out-across-the-state/news-story/60f081af24b72e81457723be6b9a46cf)

  23. Paul Reply

    Yet another ignorant article for lock out laws constantly referring to misleading, bias statistics and implying people that are against lock out laws have no respect for the unfortunate events of a young bloke losing his life (of course we respect and still morn anyone who loses their life to such a shameful act).

    However get a grip. Rather than force your ignorant view, how about spread the word of something more beneficial like an open debate and work together.

  24. Steve Reply

    The Keep Sydney Open movement has become an extremely well organised force on social media. That is why any online polls are now so heavily skewed towards people against the laws, because as soon as a new poll comes out it is being shared by this movement and everybody who took part in it. I know this because I am a young person and I see all my friends sharing the posts – ‘quick, everyone go and vote on this poll’. I am sure the actual numbers would lie somewhere in the middle in reality, closer to 50% or a bit above in support. The thing that has really bothered me about the arguments from those opposed to the laws is the willingness to jump on dodgy information and treat it as fact. I am really saddened by the reality that so many of my friends are spreading false assertions simply to back their argument. I thought we were better than that! It’s just like Fox News. A few examples –

    1. The claim that assaults at the casino have risen 88%. It was just last week that Don Weatherburn from BOCSAR confirmed that while there had been a brief spike in assaults when the laws were first introduced, it has not been sustained. Using percentages in this case is also highly misleading also ignores the underlying number which show the decrease in individual assaults in Kings Cross is substantially higher than the corresponding increase at the casino (in some cases we are talking in low single digits). BOCSAR has stated there has been NO displacement effect – http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/lockout-laws-baird-facebook-comment-controversy-highlights-crime-data-debate-20160211-gmrquk.html

    2. The claim that a better solution would be harsher penalties for offenders. This has been debunked by experts numerous times. In the heat of the alcohol-fuelled moment, harsher penalties do not come into the perpetrator’s mind. Please see – http://m.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/criminologist-how-to-tackle-alcoholfuelled-violence-20160211-gmri3s.html

    3. The claim that lockouts failed in Melbourne. This has been rebuffed (although the evidence on lockouts is indeed mixed). Please see – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/its-not-a-nanny-state-lockout-laws-are-just-common-sense/news-story/d1a3f2ace279d035a26bd891ce206c87

    4. The unwillingness of the anti-lockouts movement to acknowledge the numerous studies taken from both local and international experiences that demonstrate the effectiveness of restricting access to alcohol through approaches such as a modest reduction in alcohol service hours (while allowing venues to remain open). Please see – http://theconversation.com/last-drink-laws-not-lockouts-reduce-alcohol-fuelled-violence-52815

    And to the person that said these laws have led to more vacant shops and convenience stores on Oxford Street — no, that happened long before these laws came in, when Oxford Street turned into a binge drinking strip and all the daytime businesses were chased away.

    • Penny Reply

      Steve – this is the most sensible comment so far. Of course the online polls are heavily skewed and as you said the closure of businesses started well before the laws came into place. I’m glad you’ve chosen to refute some of the most commonly used arguments against the laws.

      • Darren Rodrigo Reply

        You dismiss the online polls because they don’t support your narrative.

        If the polls were the other way you’d claim them as credible and scream about how they support the absurd claims made in this article.

        The fact is, at this point you have no empirical data to support your claims that there is ‘majority support for the lockouts’.

        You are just kidding yourselves to say the lockout laws have had ‘little impact’ in businesses which allegedly starting closing before they were introduced.

        That may have been the case up on Oxford St, which has struggled ever ever since Westfield Bondi Junction opened, but its not the case in Kings X. I know, I used to work there. Every Friday and Saturday night it was like New Years Eve.

        Now, it is a wasteland and the bar I used to work at, Hugos Lounge, previously voted best nightclub in Australia 5 years running has also closed.

        People have lost their jobs here. Business owners, who the Government and media seem to treat like ‘the enemy’ have gone bankrupt and lost their investments.

        Stop dismissing this as made up fantasy.

  25. Josh Anderson Reply

    What an absolute load.
    We went from the ‘safest city in the world’ (http://stoneyroads.com/2016/02/did-you-know-sydney-was-rated-the-safest-city-in-the-world-in-2013)
    to a drunken, violent cesspit in a matter of months.
    The lockout laws are stupid, reactionary, and have been strangling our city for too long.
    So sick of people pimping out the deaths of two young men (who would be turning in their graves right now) so they can funnel people into the seat of vice, the casino, just so the state government can take their cut – and keep control.
    We want our city back.

  26. Andrew Reply

    Lock out laws tar all people who drink alcohol as guilty or somehow more likely to commit assaults. This is BS. Violent people commit assaults – if its not alcohol they use as an excuse, it will be some other factor. The vast majority of people who drink don’t go out and engage in violent behaviour.

    There is a much greater correlation between the suburbs where people originate from and their propensity to commit assaults than there is between people who drink alcohol and their propensity to commit assaults.

    Looking at the home postcodes of those convicted of one punch assaults, it is clear that if we banned people from certain suburbs in Western Sydney from visiting the inner city or the inner East, we would have a much sharper reduction in night time assaults in these areas than restricting alcohol to residents.

    If we’re willing to restrict the access of all NSW residents to alcohol, why don’t we consider the much more effective measure of preventing people from specific post codes from visiting the inner city?

  27. Yannic Reply

    Catherina I believe you feel confident in your argumentation with such a strong evidence of the 353 people behind you.

    I think you’re article is simply a extended propaganda machine of what the NSW government is trying to implement since the last three years.

    We all know that obviously if their is a nightlife with a huge amount of people the conflict potential raises naturally. But than the measure should focus on prevention and not to inderictly restrict people in their ability to decide what to do in their free time.
    Your argument that other cities do not have 24/7 alcohol service made me laugh a little bit. So what because other cities do or do not have some rules you gonna follow just because that’s how it is?
    And compare Sydney to Paris is ridiculous, I am living in Paris at the moment and I can go have a beer at 4am if I feel like it. But further more these are completely from ground in different cities who have their qualities in their own ways. Well sydney lost one of its qualities (it’s beautiful diverse and vibrant nightlife).
    Second i think Paris is not safe at all when you compare it to Sydney the violence and crime on the street is much more present than in Sydney and now the funny thing on the story I don’t think it is necesarily alcohol related violence it is a caused by people who are actually looking for it. That is where the government here and in Sydney failed in prevention to keep their city safe. At least the Parisian government realised that by locking people out that is not going to happen.

    Another thing is that obviously the lockout laws are there for one other reason which is to turnaround Kings X in to a upmarket and profit returning living area for those who developing and are concerned with the real estate trade with in that area. The area is going to make a prime location and renting prices will go through the roof in that area lets just wait a few more years…

    I read an interesting article a week back http://m.smh.com.au/comment/australia-doesnt-have-a-problem-with-alcohol-we-have-a-problem-with-violence-20150120-12u3eb.html

    (Funny those articles seem to come more and more in the SMH…)
    Where the author puts out an important point same as I mentioned before it’s about prevention and the measures you take. About me I lived in Australia for bit more than 4 years, originally from Germany and now based in Paris. I grew up in a country where you can buy beer and wine from the age of 16. You can purchase and drink alcohol at anytime of the day and also consume it where ever you want. So imagine first time I came to Australia it was already weird for me to be placed under such restrictions like ‘I can’t pop open a nice cold beer and watch the sunset in the beach’ ?!?
    Anyway new country new rules and cultures we have to adapt.
    But with the implementation of the lockout laws put in place by a government that cinvieniently left out some very huge nightlife establishment that where in building at the time. It all became a bit of a joke. Oh and by the way are those mentioned (I guess we all know what I’m talking about) places are again exempted in case there will be a NSW wide lock out law?

    So back to my point you take the example from Berlin they have a dedicated night major, prevention police and other initiatives to sustain and keep their vibrant and exciting nightlife alive to make their city a magnet for people to come visit from all over the world.

  28. Steve Reply

    Please confirm whether this analysis is correct.

    FARE was stablished in 2001 by the Australian Parliament with a $115 million grant, the Foundation was set up to distribute funding for programs and research that aimed to prevent the harms caused by alcohol and licit substance misuse. (FARE web site) It currently has $36 million in retained earnings (2015 Annual financial report). Out of the three million spent 6% went to directors (9 meetings) 53% on staff and 26% on projects (2014-2015 Annual report).

  29. Tom Collins Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts Caterina, I have a few quick questions, if you have a chance;

    Do you have an opinion on why Star City (and Bangaroo) are exempt from the “Lockout” laws enabling the consumption of Alcohol 24 hours a day ?

    Does the exception for the casinos work towards stopping the harm caused by alcohol?

  30. K Reply

    What irresponsible use of data. This is hardly representative of the population of the people living in the lockout law areas. Who cares about what someone living in Bathurst (or ACT for that matter) thinks of our night culture.

  31. David Greco Reply

    It’s not even about the alcohol. Put strict laws on alcohol I couldn’t glare less. But you can’t just mindlessly say, “too many fights, no ones allowed out anymore.” It’s childish. We’re not babies. Treat the NSW public like adults and come up with a wider solution than just [This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards and Drink Tankhouse rules]. Embarrassing

  32. Good dan Reply

    Poorly researched (or not at all) biased and quoting false statistics.
    Congratulations – lockout laws have decimated the nighttime economy and foot traffic in areas not sponsored by #casinomike whilst INCREASING rates of violence for anyone left out at night.

  33. douglas Reply

    These measures are NOT based on evidence and broad-based consultation at all and your statement asserting this is either intentionally misleading or emblematic of your complete lack of understanding of the policy process.
    As context, policies of blanket prohibition and public order control have NEVER been effective in instituting genuine positive change in public behaviour, which is why cities that do base their policy on evidence have actually been selectively extending their trading hours as part of suite of other measures (but more on that later).
    Citing Newcastle is irrelevant, as it is not comparative in scale or type (A regional city of less than a million, compared with a world city of 5 million), and is also subject to a displacement effect (because Newcastle is close enough to Sydney, people simply move permanently or temporarily to Sydney to access wider options for nightlife).
    In making evidence comparisons it is necessary to utilise similar size and type markets. This would suggest use of examples such as Melbourne, or even international cities such as London, New York, etc whos western, anglo-based culture in conjunction with international status and market size represents similar complexity of issues to that of Sydney.
    Comparisons with the experience of these cities suggest that a much more varied and nuanced approach is both more effective and more practicable in encouraging safety and public order while maintaining and encouraging the vibrancy and choice (and economic vitality) that an international city requires.
    All of these cities have progressively extended their trading options for licenced premises as part of a broader response to maintaining a wide variety of options in a night-time economy. All of these jurisdictions have included police and public health officials ALONGSIDE local government, residents, businesses, artists and other community representatives to forge a coordinated path to more vibrant, safe and prosperous cities that run 24/7.
    Even in Sydney itself there are precedents for this approach and how easy and effective it can be. During the Olympics, not 16 years ago, government and community came together to create an effectively functioning 24 city. Transport was planned and operated to run 24 hours to ensure that people were moved effectively and safely (and what a surprise, people used it!), options for a range of nighttime activities and entertainment were encouraged (live performance, music, art, etc), and supplemented by the extension of trading hours to allow venues to trade 24 hours. Policing was adjusted to oversee streets made safe and welcoming because they had traffic at all hours.
    We can do this again.
    But NONE of this was considered.
    In an environment where over a sustained period of a decade alcohol consumption has been declining, binge drinking has been declining (yes this is the ACTUAL evidence… look it up), where violence was declining (yes these are the official figures, look it up), the government did not consult. The government did not calmly implement a policy process based upon evidence and best practice…. it implemented a suite of knee-jerk policies in response to media hysteria.
    The very public assaults that lead to this hysteria would have happened REGARDLESS OF THESE LAWS. Both of the incidents happened before midnight, and were perpetrated by violent criminals who are ,likely to have committed these crimes regardless of any laws or regulations.
    NO-one (at least no-one sensible) is supporting binge-drinking and violence. Indeed it is important to note that those calling for a proper review of the alcohol laws are supportive of working with the government, police and community to put in place real measures that will make a difference. It is only the shrill supporters of the lock-out laws (like yourself) that employ reductionist arguments that suggest this is a fight between those who want alcohol and violence and those who want a safe and mature society. This is spurious and destructive.
    Restrictive laws do not change behaviour or attitudes, and even a cursory glance at history would show you that.
    These laws were ill-thought out, rushed and have imposed restrictions that have destroyed livelihoods rapidly eroded the vibrancy of Sydney as a world city. I do not suggest that before these laws Sydney was perfect, and that better approaches were needed, I dont believe anyone in this debate suggests this. But repressive and simplistic curfews, bans and restrictions are not the answer in a mature society.
    Normative statements about what people should or should not be doing (such as painting these laws as ‘modest restrictions’) are disingenous and self-centred. Just because you, and those like Mike Baird, have no need or interest in being out and engaging in entertainment after midnight, does not mean it is not a valid option. People out till dawn are not, by definition, drunken socially destructive people whos choice and freedom deserve to be curbed.
    Your simplistic arguments and manipulation (and misrepresentation) of facts has no place in a sensible discussion about policy and the way forward.
    If you cannot make a properly reasoned contribution to the debate without misrepresentation, then you will be (and should be) ignored.

  34. Jeremy Reply

    Hi Caterina,
    It’s unfortunate that you’ll cop a lot of undeserved vitriol for writing this piece. It’s worth understanding though that people who feel passionately that these onerous restrictions should be repealed, aren’t just focused on a desire to drink alcohol all night. It’s not about that.

    The ‘vested interests’ that you speak of are generally small businesses, many of whom don’t sell alcohol, but benefit from a vibrant night time economy. They are newsagents, restaurants, food outlets and the like. Yes, bars have a stake too, but it’s an entire eco-system of businesses and livelihoods that are being decimated by these laws.

    In Kings Cross, the security procedures for entering a bar after 7:00pm are more stringent than those required to catch a domestic flight. There are many Australians who work shifts or in the hospitality industry. Those who take care of use in restaurants, who answer our late night phone calls to the bank, or even doctors and nurses are deprived of the ability to get a bottle of wine or a couple of beers from a bottleshop after work.

    Those who finish very late, can’t find a licensed venue (unless it’s a casino). The NSW Government purports to be looking out for the public and yet is unable to tell us why people should not be able to get a drink at 3:00am but should be able to put their pay packet through a poker machine.

    We’re frustrated that medical professionals such as yourself use dubious statistics to bolster your arguments and refuse to countenance any other solutions to the problem of violence. The Star Casino is an incredibly violent venue, and yet we haven’t heard a single medical professional argue for the lockouts to be expanded to these violent, vile venues.

    It’s also unseemly that some medical professionals are fronting casino-backed lobby groups to support lock-out laws and going as far as to suggest that people go to casinos if they want to be out late.

    The irony is, no-one wants to go out in an unsafe environment, so instead of taking a lazy and destructive policy approach that does nothing to address the causes of violence, the medical and arts and cultural communities should work together on better solutions to the violence issue.

  35. Brendan Reply

    Caterina please read the following to understand how stupid you are… This is your strategy of argument placed in a different issue.

    Many people die every year in car accidents in NSW and it’s a National issue bordering on a crisis. We think it’s in the better interest of all residents in NSW to place a few restrictions in place. However they won’t negitivly effect Public and private Transport in anyway.
    1) After 10pm no more buying petrol, this can encourage people do drive later at night
    2) after midnight no Bikes, Scooters. Scateboards and scared. More people using them after 12 the more dangerous the road can be.
    3) after midnight,drivers can only go one mile per person in the car.
    4) After 1:30am no sports cars are allowed to be on the street e.g. Ferrari
    5) after 3pm everyone has to walk home but lorry trucks and road trains are still alowed to drive as long as they don’t have head lights on.

    Many critics are saying that this is destroying transport for NSW,that instead we should do things like
    -Maintain Safer Roads
    -Routinely check all road and traffic lights
    -Public awareness campaigns for safer driving
    -encouraging safer driving
    -increasing instead of decreasing authorities working around high risk intersections.
    -Periodic Reviews on peoples driving licenses based on any speeding tickets or complaints.
    -alternative public transport

    Your proposed strategy is by removing people’s ability to drive is the best way to ensure people saftey. And at the same time invite the dangerous road trains (metaphor for Star and Barangaroo)

  36. Steve Reply

    It is a real shame there is so much abuse and misinformation in the comments attached to this column. The so-called vibrancy of Kings Cross is described well in this column – https://johnjohnsonson.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/kings-cross-now-just-a-memory-for-tired-old-ravers-in-their-40s/

    The ‘business eco-system’ that fed off the saturation of nightclubs was mostly comprised of convenience stores and dodgy take-away pizza outlets. We can do better!

    What about my right to go out at night in a relatively civilised environment without massive groups of drunk d***heads roaming around and people vomiting on the street? And before you say ‘don’t go there then’, what choice do you have when the city’s only gay bars are located in such an area? The focus on alcohol simply became too much and too profitable in these areas, and it was the surrounding environment that suffered. We need to start again and aim higher.

  37. Surely Not Reply

    Hi Caterina,

    You say in the article that “Today a vast majority of people in New South Wales (68 per cent) support these measures”. 353 people were surveyed. Not only that, but they were people who opted in and Galaxy would have already had data on.

    So you have hand picked 353 people to ask, and then presented the findings as the opinion of “the vast majority of people in New South Wales”. That is misleading at best, fraudulent at worst. That the herald ran with this is scandalous.

    How do you, in good conscience, stand by this obviously rigged report?

  38. Stan Reply

    Great article Catalina. Some very valid points and stats. Not that it will make much difference to most of the commenters here. The laws are enacted using facts and evidence. Whilst those who are against it are driven by heart and passion: They speak a different language. I’ve seen first hand friends who had been the bloodied victims at the Cross dued to alcohol violence. Nothing like a trip to the hospital do change ones mind about this issue. Needless to say we have since stayed well away from the area. I can only imagine the impact to those who have lost loved ones there, or have their lives completely changed, just so things will never have to change, and the party keeps on rolling.

    Call me skeptical, but with over 70% of Sydney populace, the local police force, and the head of Medicine at St Vincent hospital calling the law a success, and for the law to remain in place, I kinda got the feeling that it is a good thing for the City? But that can just be a giant conspiracy right?

    And I am sure I will be called a “pussy” for fearing to tread into the hallow turf that is The Kings Cross strip just because of some bad experience. That’s OK I have been called worse by other commenters. You passion folks sure can get creative, from interpretation of statistics, to making up insults.

    Just as an insight: I love the sport of shooting. But the current gun laws in place means that my right to enjoy firearms has been severely curtailed. Should I be pissed? Should I perhaps organised a protest standing up for my right to enjoy my firearms the way I want to?

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