Are lockout laws killing live music? Channel 7’s Sunrise tackles the big issue

This morning Channel 7 program Sunrise invited The Whitlams‘ Tim Freedman on the show to tackle the issues surrounding lockout laws and their damaging effects on Sydney live music.

Lockout laws Sydney

In the report, Sunrise, one of Australia’s most popular morning TV shows, asked Freedman to give his assessment on the effects that the laws are having on Sydney’s music scene. Standing out front of the Newtown Hotel, Freedman slammed the laws, despite their influence on the 26 percent drop in violence across Sydney’s CBD.

“What is happening is that the music venues are being treated like the big night clubs, where policy needs to be a bit nuanced,” he says. Freedman then goes on to cite The Basement as a perfect example of the smaller venues who are being caught up in a net “trying to catch the bigger sharks.” 

Citing the problem as a ‘national issue’, Freedman scalds the lockout laws as being the primary reason for the closure of more than ten venue across Sydney in the past 24 months, as well as the primary reason for beloved venues like the Oxford Art Factory and Goodgod suffering a loss of up to 40 percent of their patronage.

He lauds Melbourne as being ‘the most sensible’, with no lockout laws, and exemptions from the liquor freeze for smaller capacity venues. The city’s own crime statistics are down (like Sydney’s) and Freedman agrees that “the rest of the country should be looking at their blueprint.”

“They’ve always been ahead of the game down in Melbourne,” Freedman said, “and so they’re getting a lot of tourists who go down there to enjoy their music culture.” He also goes on to say that despite crime stats being down in Kings Cross, we have seen a spread in issues in surrounding areas, for example in Newtown, which has seen a slight rise in crime, the threat of introducing higher restrictions on venues and some venue closures (i.e. The Imperial).

“If you start losing the late night venues, it filters down to the venues that close at midnight and the whole scene starts to contract. We need safety on the streets, but we also need a culture at night,” Freedman says.

The Sunrise team praised the arguments as being ‘very sensible’, calling Freedman ‘very eloquent’. Is this the start of some forward thinking of policy for Sydney and Australia as whole? If so we might have Channel 7 to thank. Who’d have thought. Cheers guys!Keep fighting the good fight.