Blog post
September 19, 2019

Sydney’s Nightlife Unlocked: An Analysis Of The Lock Out Laws

In an effort to compete with cities around the world with a bustling nightlife, Sydney’s controversial lock out laws have recently been dialed back to resuscitate the city’s weakened night-life and revive the city’s economy.

In this article we’ll explore the media coverage around Sydney’s lock out laws in the lead up to the recent changes.

About the lock out laws

Since the inception of the laws in 2014, many restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and bars in Kings Cross, Haymarket, Surry Hills, Cockle Bay and Darlinghurst have been required to abide by the laws of denying people entry after 1:30am and ceasing alcohol service at 3am. 

The lock out laws will remain in Kings Cross however they will be abolished in the CBD. 

Sydney is a global city, yet it’s also a city that turns into a ghost town once the sun goes down. It’s lacking nightlife has not reflected the status of a global city and as such a rev up has been ordered by the NSW Premier. The City of Sydney Council notes the nearly half a million people aged under 35 give Sydney a miss every year and as a result is hurting the economy.

A parliamentary inquiry was undertaken to examine the impact of the laws on nightlife and crime. With over 800 submissions, the committee were given insight into the restrictions having reduced crime in Kings Cross, yet it had also taken a toll on Sydney’s night-time economy and had taken a hit. The live music industry has been the main industry affected with more than 170 venues shutting down during the past five years. 

The Keep Sydney Safe campaign- run by the Last Drinks coalition of emergency service workers, questions whether removing the restrictions is a good idea as their studies show the most effective way to reduce alcohol-fueled violence is by placing restrictions on the late-night sale of alcohol. 

Lock out laws media mention analysis and key spokespeople

Mentions of lock out laws January 1 2019 – September 13 2019

Not surprisingly, we have seen a spike in conversations around the topic of “lock out laws” in September since the announcement of their abolition, with mentions reaching similar figures to those in May when it was first announced the laws would be reviewed.

It is notable that the top five spokespeople leading conversations about the lock out laws are split for and against removal.

We see in the graph below Gladys Berejiklian is leading the conversations across Print, Broadcast and Online with 41 percent and she discusses the need to balance the community safety alongside having a strong night time economy and it being time to revitalise the city’s nightlife.

Dr Tony Sara from the Last Drinks Campaign, who opposes revocation, makes up 21 percent of conversations, and he focuses on the laws have dramatically reduced alcohol-related assaults. Tyson Koh from Keep Sydney Open, who has been campaigning for the removal of the laws for the last five years and has recently started a campaign for pill testing at festivals, follows closely behind Dr Sara with 18 percent of conversations. 

Other opponents of the reversal, including the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and St Vincent’s Hospital, are calling on the State Government to retain the laws. They point out that laws have already saved half a million dollars in ambulance and medical costs at St Vincent’s Hospital alone by decreasing the number of fractures requiring surgery. They also warn the rollback could result in a rise in alcohol-fueled violence, putting the safety of the community at risk. Hospital emergency staff are disappointed in the decision as they treat most of the city’s emergency patients and see the results of violence first hand.

Although the government is set to lift the laws, the NSW Premier has stated they could be reintroduced quickly, if their removal does not make a positive impact on the city.

If you would like to learn more about this topic through the media lens or anything media intelligence related, get in touch with us today.


Louise Wallace
Louise Wallace
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