AustraliaSydney's lockout laws likely to be relaxed as Premier orders review
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Sydney's controversial lockout laws are set to be wound back, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordering a review, saying it was time to "take stock" and rethink the laws.
The move to set up a cross-party committee to examine the laws comes ahead of a push in the NSW upper house from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and the Greens to scrap the lockout.
Shooters MP Robert Borsak and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann have each tabled motions to get rid of the laws, which apply to clubs and pubs across Sydney's CBD and Kings Cross.
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Kathy and Ralph Kelly lost both their boys after their youngest son spiraled into an 'irreversible' state of despair. Their eldest was killed by a coward punch in Sydney's Kings Cross.
Ms Berejiklian said it was now time to revisit the laws.
"After five years of operation, it makes sense for us to now take stock and examine whether any further changes should be made," Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said that since the laws were introduced in 2014, the number of non-domestic violent assaults in Sydney's CBD and Kings Cross had declined.
"We have always sought to strike a balance between limiting alcohol-related violence and maintaining a vibrant night-time economy,” Ms Berejiklian said.
"During this period, we have also worked to relax certain aspects of the laws, such as extending trading hours for bars and clubs for major events, and making it easier for small bars, restaurants and cafes to start up and operate."
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The lockout laws were implemented across the CBD by then premier Barry O'Farrell in February 2014 following a public outcry over a spate of violent alcohol-fuelled incidents, including the one-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.
Ms Berejiklian said there had been a number of reviews into Sydney’s night-time economy, including a review of the liquor laws by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, QC.
Following his review, the laws were relaxed by 30 minutes, resulting in 2am lockouts and 3.30am last drinks in venues with live entertainment.
During this year's state election campaign, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers said repealing the lockout laws was one of the party's priorities in the first term of the new Parliament.
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"We just want to get Sydney going again and revitalise the nightlife," Mr Borsak said on Tuesday.
"If there is a problem with violence and policing, then fix that, but don't make venues close."
One Nation's NSW leader Mark Latham has also said he would support a relaxation of the laws, which he says have gone "way too far".
But former opposition leader Michael Daley said Labor would not relax the laws, although party leadership hopeful Chris Minns has indicated he would support winding them back.
Last last year, a leading alcohol policy group warned that winding back the lockout laws would be "violence over vibrancy".
The NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance, made up of 48 groups including frontline emergency services, law enforcement and health experts, said repealing the laws would be a "curse" on Sydney.
The new joint select committee will be made up of five members of the lower house, including three government members and at least one crossbench member, as well as five members of the upper house, including two government members and at least two crossbench members.
It will examine how to "maintain and enhance" community safety and health outcomes as well as ensuring all "existing regulatory arrangements in relation to individuals, businessesand other stakeholders, including Sydney’s lockout laws, remain appropriately balanced".
It will be chaired by a government member and will report to Parliament by September 30.
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