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Sydney’s Lock-out Laws: The Death of Nightlife and Tourism

By Oliver Clarke

Australia’s a flawed land; a place of construction and destruction, sometimes in the same day. Sometimes in the same place. Sydney is the place that comes to mind with the mention of the apparently barren land of Oz, but Canberra funnily enough is the capital. It’s where the government resides, where they sit in their easy chairs and smoke fat cigars, take expensive drugs, have cheap affairs. The fact that such a horrible place would be the capital is typical of Australia. You see, the government rules everything here, and the billionaires rule the government, so this slave trade union can thus prosper in a neo-liberal whirlwind of social deception and trickery.

The lockout laws in Sydney are a prime example of this destructive partnership between billionaires and the government. These laws, which snuck craftily into place sometime towards the end of 2015, mean that bars, clubs, and pubs in Sydney refuse entry or re-entry after 1:30 A.M, and are totally devoid of any human soul beside the withered one of the barkeep by around 3. Shots of alcohol or doubles are cut off at midnight, and any unfortunate being walking the Australian streets around this time will most likely find it to live up to it’s barren desert image.

I was outside a bar last week, which had closed particularly early due to it being a Sunday. Fair enough I suppose, Sunday is after all a day of rest, and if there’s one thing the government can’t get at it’s the holy. I was standing around with a few friends figuring out how to get home, when two middle aged men who looked like they came from somewhere in South Asia approached us.

“Excuse me.” one of them said. “My English is not very good but …”

My God, I thought, what is this, what am I going to be asked? I am, after all, standing in one of the suburbs most notorious for drug culture, and where there have recently been quite a few attacks on innocent people by conservative, beer-fuelled hicks. But my fears were dismissed.

“Where is everyone?” the man said.

My previously concerned face turned into a sad smile, as one of my friends explained to them the lockout laws, trying to use simple English to explain one of the most stupidly intricate laws to be placed in this country. As he talked I reflected on what these foreigners must think of Sydney right now. Here were these two young lads, in a new country, out to experience the culture and the laughter of what had appeared such a happy, fun, prosperous land in the travel brochure, and now they were kicked out on their faces to the gum caked dirty sidewalk, nowhere to drink, nowhere to hear music.

At last, all we could tell them was that if they wanted to drink or see people, they’d have no option but the casino. They shook their heads and laughed nervously.

“No.” one said. “We don’t gamble. We come out to drink, and everything is closed.”

My God what is Premier Baird doing?

The innate problem with the lockout laws is not so much that I can’t get a shot of whiskey after midnight, or get into some scummy nightclub in the early hours of the morning and lose all sense of direction, but this casino. This goddam casino. It’s the only place besides the newly built, empty wasteland of Barangaroo exempt from the lockout laws, as well as a few select restaurants and drug fronts. These laws help no one but casino owner, billionaire James Packer. Oh, but it’s about violence they say! Look how far it’s dropped! Or it’s about alcohol abuse, look how many people are drinking beer at 2 in the morning instead of vodka. Baird has put up a claim of violence prevention to be the main reason for these lockout laws but the real winner at this stage is a billionaire.

Of course Prime Minister Turnbull backs it as well, he’s all for making money. And Mike, we’re all for equality here in Sydney, we don’t mind whatever’s going on between you and Packer, but what we do mind is you locking out decent people from decent fun, and locking them into the scummy Star Casino where they can gamble, drink, and smoke their money away.

So enough of the ‘phony’ statistics, enough of the rates and the security and the safety, it’s time the premier admits the financial benefit of the government, and the billionaires, from these laws, or it’s “goodbye, Sydney” and “hello, addiction”.


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  1. Klaus

    When I arrived from Germany in 1983, I found a place brimming with life. Germans Christmas is holy and I found it bemusing, when on Xmas day 1990 (I lived in Perth and Melbourne before that) Bondi Beach came to live with chairs, old fridges (not working of course) and all sorts of stuff. We had fun, we had alcohol at the beach etc. Nobody got hurt, nobody drowned. At least I didn’t read it in the papers the next day. The year after, Police decided to cage the revelers in a big cage on the Bondi sand. Scenes got ugly, the police heavy handed.

    Bottles flew and Mayhem ensued. This was the end of fun on XMas day in Bondi. No matter to what party, public fun fair, fests you go in Germany, you drink alcohol. All of this is now dead in Australia. You can’t drink in public, you can’t do anything. In many tourist places there are beautiful cocktail bars at the beach. Not here.

    In Europe, people ride bikes without helmets, god forbid. And people call it a Nanny state. It has long ago morphed into a police state and the controlling goes further.

    The other day a saw the terminator following cars on the M1 between the gold coast and Brisbane. Why terminator? He rode up to every car in his path, crossing lanes in the process and stuck his helmet head directly into the side of each driver he passed. That is a police state.

  2. jessie

    Oliver !
    The innate problem with the lockout laws is not so much that I can’t get a shot of whiskey after midnight, ???????

    I don’t think the above statement is accurate.

    I think the laws are very sensible.

  3. Pilot

    Aw come on jessie….

    The laws are ridiculous. Klaus brings up relevant points. Also, these laws are simply more evidence that our Lying Liberals, be they State or Federal are simply following their fascist doctrine of heavy handed police actions against the public, ultimate control over Australia’s citizens with draconian laws written precisely to remove all our hard won freedoms and to maintain total control of the working classes. The laws, and both our State and Federal lying liberal governments are disgraceful by their actions and words. They need to be pissed off very quickly is Australians are to regain the freedoms of the past.

  4. jessie

    Pilot You’ve incorporated many biases in the above rant. You still can get a shot of whiskey after midnight. It’s your over educated idiots who want to sleep until 11 pm after School and then go out raging??? Your all so special aren’t you? and so self centred.

  5. Miriam English

    The victory of the puritans. Ugh!

    The weird thing is that violence has been diminishing since people started keeping records hundreds of years ago. Why are the horrid puritans so wound up about it now? Because they are always wound up about it. Now, with this age of corrupt mass media, some politicians can use the puritans to rule over the rest of us… and turn a tidy profit at the same time, of course.

    Australia has a drinking problem and a drunk-violence problem, but that isn’t fixed by covering it up. Use social forces and information to counter them. Ensure the aggressive drunk is portrayed in film, TV, books, and other media as someone disgusting and to be pitied. I’m greatly opposed to alcohol use, but you don’t stop people drinking by restricting drink via the law. That’s been tried before. It was called the Prohibition. During that period alcohol consumption rose and it gave us large-scale organised crime.

    Australia also has a massive gambling problem. That certainly is not repaired by making a casino the only place you can go late at night.

  6. Klaus

    Australians don’t have respect for each other. Unfortunately, that starts in early childhood, through kindergarten and school. It is a generational challenge. To stop every bit of fun, including a whiskey after midnight if one feels like it, is rubbish. I don’t smoke and have never smoked but even I believe that the smokers are harsh done by.

    The funny thing is, the Pollies don’t only consume that stuff until the early mornings, they don’t even pay for it. They have their fun catered for, something we can’t afford and hence look for external establishments.

    Aussies don’t have respect one for each other. Domestic violence is rampant but I know the cure. Just don’t let them be together. I am sure that solves domestic violence, right jessie?

  7. jessie

    Klaus I agree with you that Australians don’t respect each other. But you can still get a whiskey after Midnight and have a chat among “your friends”.

  8. Miriam English

    Well said, Klaus. 🙂

  9. Pilot

    Stupidity rules……

  10. Sarah

    We wouldn’t put up with this crap in Melbourne.That’s why we are the entertainment capital.

  11. mark

    baird born april first,melbourne.mark

  12. nurses1968

    I have been on the frontline of the boozed up drug crazed admission almost bringing A&E to a standstill on weekends, clogging the system for those in medical emergency
    Why is it people can’t have fun after the lockouts without booze and drug fuelled systems, after alll, it is after 3 A.M
    The number of savage assaults within Sydney’s popular nightspots has dropped dramatically since the introduction of lock-out laws and there is no evidence to prove the problems have moved elsewhere, police say.

    But data gathered by the City of Sydney suggests that may be a result of fewer people partying in Kings Cross and the CBD, as evidence by footpath congestion down 84 per cent in some areas.

    NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Fuller fronted a NSW parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday into reducing alcohol and drug violence and said intelligence from local officers showed there was a feeling “on the ground that there is a positive move towards a safer environment”.
    Staff from St Vincent’s Hospital told the inquiry there had been a significant reduction in alcohol-related presentations

    Assault rates in Kings Cross have dropped by 32%, and a less immediate but substantial reduction in assaults in the Sydney CBD, down 40%.

    a ­coalition of emergency services workers have banded together to demand the laws not only ­remain but be expanded.
    Despite the introduction of restraints and a new drug to calm intoxicated patients, emergency workers say drinking ­restrictions are the most sure-fire way of countering alcohol-fuelled violence.
    In a strongly worded letter to Premier Mike Baird last week, the police officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses have ­requested a meeting to discuss the laws be rolled out statewide.

    The Last Drinks coalition, represented by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, the Australian Salaried Medical ­Officers’ Federation, the Health Services Union NSW and Police Association of NSW, described its opponents as “a vocal minority” driven by “greed”.

  13. Pingback: Latest Publication- May, 24, 2016 – confessionaljournalism

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