The NSW government will implement the key recommendations of the Callinan review, which assessed the impact of the lockout laws in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross region.
Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant announced that in line with the review, lockout laws will be relaxed for live entertainment venues in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross and takeaway and home delivery alcohol sales will be extended from 10pm to 11pm across the state.
As recommended by Justice Ian Callinan (pictured), a two year trial of a later 2am lockout and 3:30am last drinks will be allowed via exemption for venues that offer genuine live entertainment, live performances or art and cultural events.
“Mr Callinan found that the lockout laws introduced in February 2014 have resulted in ‘much safer, quieter and cleaner areas’,” Baird said.
“He made some common sense suggestions for changes that we are confident will further enhance night-life in the precincts without undermining the essential purpose of the laws – which is to make the CBD and the Cross places where people can enjoy a safe night out.”
Grant said “The extension of takeaway and home delivery alcohol sales and the later lockout times will be in place by January to allow the community and businesses to capitalise over the busy summer period. “
Cabinet also endorsed changes to other areas of the state’s liquor laws. This includes raising the patron limit for small bars from 60 to 100. Automatic trading times will also be extended from midnight to 2am, bringing small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross into line with the rest of NSW. However, these trading times will not override local council development consent conditions that may require a venue to close earlier.
Modifications will also be made to the Three Strikes Scheme, which the government says has reduced serious breaches of liquor laws by targeting ‘repeat offender’ licensed venues. Businesses that have incurred strikes face a range of escalating penalties including licence suspensions, cancellations and disqualifications. However, the attachment of strikes to a venue’s licence has negatively affected owners and operators who have taken over the license of a venue that has been issued with a strike. Operators have been unable to remove strikes incurred by the previous management, and banks have refinanced loans on venues after they received just one strike, causing financial hardship for the owners and sometimes forcing the sale of their asset.
The government is proposing that strikes be incurred by individual licensees rather than attaching them to a venue’s licence. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Board will determine strikes, with an appeal mechanism to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.