Lockout flaws: extended trading hours are slowly being granted for venues in the CBD, but is it too late?

There is very, very slow progress towards the depletion of the “draconian” lockout laws that currently plagues the Sydney CBD.

While a number of venues still wait for their applications to be granted, three venues have recently been given the green light.

Photo: Oxford Art Factory
Photo: Oxford Art Factory

Undeniably, live entertainment venues across Sydney CBD are struggling, with many shutting their doors indefinitely. While the government is slowly granting exemptions, is the progress quick enough?

Sydney’s live music and entertainment scene has been shaken to the core since the NSW government introduced a number of strict laws affecting nearly everything from the venues’ noise levels to the selling of alcohol.

After a review of the results back in September 2016, the government planned a two year trial, starting in January 2017, to extend last drinks and accept guests for an extra half an hour.

The latest venues to be affected by these exemptions are the Oxford Art Factory in Darlinghurst and Mr B’s, meaning they will now welcome guests until 2AM, instead of 1:30AM, and will continue bar service until 3:30AM, instead of 3AM.

CEO and licensee of Oxford Art Factory, Mark Gerber, voiced his anger over the damage of the “draconian laws” and encouraged other venues to apply for the exemption.

“I strongly urge all licensed premises in the CBD, both large or small, to stand with us and apply for this much needed exemption from the lockout laws (…) The future of Sydney’s nightlife and its cultural vibrancy depends on a united front and a show of strength from all affected venues and the people who use them.”

According to Music Feeds, there have been seven approvals so far with a further 19 on the waiting list.

The latest venue to temporarily shut its doors was the beloved DIY venue and volunteer-run indie record store, Black Wire, who were overwhelmed by “bloody stressful” changes and pressures from the council to alleviate noise complaints.

While one of the motives behind the lockout laws are to reduce alcohol fuelled violence around King’s Cross, latest data suggests they are actually causing an increase in these instances outside the lockout zones. The report stated a 17% increase in neighbouring suburbs like Double Bay, Newtown and Bondi.

Other venues to be granted exemptions this year and last are Palace Hotel Sydney, the Arthouse Hotel, Observer Hotel and World Bar. You can keep up to date with the official changes at the Liquor and Gaming website here and here.

While you’re here, check out these 8 venues carrying the flame for Sydney live music