Live events sector
There has been a 40 per cent drop in live music revenue in Sydney’s lockout zone since the laws were introduced, according to new figures from the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) with APRA’s figures also showing a 19 per cent drop in patrons at nightclubs in the areas of the city affected by the legislation. The lockout laws have been the subject of intense debate over the last fortnight, with Premier Mike Baird saying it would take a lot to change his mind about the rules. He cited a 40 per cent drop in the assault rate in Kings Cross as proof the legislation was fulfilling its purpose — to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.
And the live music industry has lamented Queensland’s equally contentious lockout laws and their exemption for casinos, saying “what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander”. The measures include a statewide 2am last drinks call from July 1, with venues in nightclub precincts able to serve alcohol until 3am if they impose a 1am lockout. However, the rules don’t apply to casinos – which generate nearly $100 million in state revenue each year. Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath claims casinos are “in a different business” and are “not there to sell alcohol”. Asked if the same argument could apply to live music venues, Ms D’Ath said such businesses were still relying on alcohol sales as their main source of revenue.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the laws had “sensible” transition and review periods saying “We will be studying the results of those reviews when they become available after the laws are implemented,” she said. Ms D’Ath again defended the laws on Friday, likening them to legislating the use of seatbelts and bicycle helmets, or banning smoking in pubs. She acknowledged “mixed” feedback, but said research showed assaults rose rapidly for every hour that alcohol was served early in the morning. “When you have that much evidence before you, you cannot stand still,” she said.
In New South Wales, restrictions see venues locking punters out at 1:30am and serving last drinks at 3:00am, and these have been blamed for a string of Sydney’s live music venues closing since their introduction 2014, including Hugos Lounge, The Imperial Hotel and Soho. Promoters of Sydney venue The Sly Fox have been told by NSW licensing authorities they must cease playing amplified music at 3am despite the venue being outside of the NSW Governments ‘punish all’ lockout law zones. The venue does have 24 hiour licence and had traditionally stayed open until 6am. The New South Wales Government has announced that it had appointed former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC to lead a review on the lockout laws.
More than 15,000 people are believed to have turned out at a rally hosted by the Keep Sydney Open campaign, which began in Belmore Park at midday and culminated in Hyde Park with speeches and live music, as citizens showed their disgust at the new laws.