Media jumps gun on lockout review

Media jumps gun on lockout review
Kings Cross, circa 1935 – Ted Hood. Image courtesy New South Wales State Library

Last week mainstream media incited another round of liquor industry bashing, after the mis-quoting of a routine announcement by the NSW Premier’s office.

The statutory review of Sydney’s CBD lock-out laws is scheduled to be revealed in February 2016, after input from numerous sources including BOCSAR (Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research), which releases its 12-month data on the subject this coming June.

News services cascaded a story that the Government was reviewing the venue restrictions early – accrediting the apparent rushed schedule to pressure from the liquor and hospitality industries.

Despite the fact that a Parliamentary Inquiry actually recommended and early review, and that the announcement by the Minister’s spokesperson actually did not say there would be an “early review”, the articles implied that the Government’s support of evidence-based research amounted to cronyism for the “powerful alcohol lobby”.

While it cannot be denied that those connected to the deaths of victims of street violence have endured a terrible tragedy, the circumstance does not automatically empower them with expertise in social trends and the psychology of violence perpetrators.

The greatest irony of the ongoing beat-up on CBD and Kings Cross venues is surely the exact parity between the resulting figures quoted by conflicting interests: while operators report of trade dropping 40 per cent, medical representative from the likes of St Vincents Hospital are boasting the same drop in assaults.

This actually implies a zero net result in terms of the measures’ success in affecting the behaviour of would-be offenders; of course absent patrons don’t cause problems.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests there has been a sharp increase in pedestrian-involved accidents prior to 1:30 as semi-intoxicated patrons rush to make curfew, and also in violent incidents on the street between 1:30 and 2am as patron numbers are artificially concentrated.

The catastrophic reduction in trade has already claimed several victims, but perhaps the biggest tragedy of the hastily implemented restrictions on venues is the failure of institutional Kings Cross landmark The Bourbon.

A hapless victim of the changes and freeze on licences in the precinct, undergoing renovations throughout the incidents and subsequent regulation changes, Chris Cheung’s C-Inc reluctantly announced the sale of the historic and newly-renovated venue – citing irreparable loss of trade, making the top-dollar visionary renovation unprofitable.

While Cheung had dreams to evolve a higher class of clientele in the famed entertainment district, Sydney’s ‘The Strip’ may instead sidle closer to the kind of undesirable patronage with which it has recently been associated.


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