Drink Tank

It’s not last drinks for Kings Cross, it’s regeneration at work

We’re not crinklies. And no, Mr Tyson Koh, human megaphone for Keep Sydney Open, we are not “boring old rich people that don’t know how to have a good time”. Empty barrels make the most noise.

Claims of 10,000 of all age groups in the faux-demonstration in Belmore Park earlier this month are fanciful. I attended and counted 1,547, all between 15-35, which is overwhelmed by 15,000 lockout supporters living in our area.

Claims Kings Cross is dead are also an urban myth. I was in the Cross last weekend and all pubs and clubs were open until at least 1am. Likewise, the unpublished, unsubstantiated survey by anti-lockout drum-beaters reckons violence has now increased in CBD and Kings Cross, a shibboleth shattered by New South Wales (NSW) Crime Bureau data.

No, we’re not boring. Our idea of a fun night is not sitting at home darning socks or reading the Bible. We go to Jangling Jacks and Monopole to enjoy a French Martini (with pineapple).

No, we’re not old. We’re older than some but relish a night out.

No, we’re not rich. We have major mortgages and work hard to pay big bills.

The difference is we know how to have a good time but not at other people’s’ expense. We don’t end up on life support or remand pending assault/drugs/murder charges. Unsurprisingly, a recent Fairfax media survey of young revellers supports lockouts.

But living within 500 metres of Kings Cross is to live in a “war zone”.

This society fought over 15 court cases to get the NSW Land and Environment Court to accept a workable definition of “saturation point” and eventually we won. Sydney Council planners have never used it. No local group has done so much with such few resources to get some justice for locals.

Then it happened. 18-year-old Thomas Kelly was randomly punched. He died after life support was switched off.

Such attacks claimed 91 lives since 2000 in Australia. NSW had the highest toll, with 28 victims.

The government imposed mandatory sentencing laws for alcohol-fuelled violence, doubling prison sentences to 20 years.

Then it happened – again.

Daniel Christie, 18 years’ old, was murdered after being hit on the streets of the Cross in December 2013.

Kings Cross was becoming a bloodbath and a vortex of vice. Broken glass, vomit, blood, urinating, drunks, police and ambulance sirens, crime with noise from doof-doof music easily penetrating residents’ triple-glazing. Locals’ Sunday morning vomit metre was off the scale and our GBL Index (General Bedlam Level) required re-calibrating weekly.

The Independent Liquor Gaming Authority (ILGA) found in 2013, Kings Cross had 225 on-premises licensed venues; 195 with extended trading hours – all approved by Sydney Council and the Office of Liquor and Gaming – who have blood on their hands.

The government introduced lockout laws. Alcohol-related crime fell by 45.1 per cent overnight: “off the cliff” said Bureau of Crime Statistics.

Lockout laws save lives.

Clover Moore called for even more ‘small’ bars adding, “I know that it’s absolutely unacceptable for people in Potts Point and Kings Cross to return to what they were experiencing [before lockouts].”

The Callinan Review independently, forensically examined 1,800 public submissions, 50 personal interviews and provides 229 pages of analysis. He recommends a two-year trial of “live music” venues, carefully defined as those which are not DJ-driven, to 3:30am.

Keep Sydney Open rejects all this. They are a pseudonym for Keeping Sydney Open to Violence and Less Vibrancy.

It’s not last drinks for Kings Cross: it’s regeneration at work.

This article was first published on 12 October by Alt Media as Lockout laws save lives – last drinks for Kings Cross?

Andrew Woodhouse

Andrew Woodhouse has been a resident in the 2011 postcode area since 1988 and lives in Potts Point/Kings Cross. He is President of the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage & Residents' Society (since 2003), is a regular contributor on issues in the area and appears in the NSW Land and Environment Court on behalf of residents.


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