In Business & Trade by Clyde Mooney

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New South Wales MPs, City of Sydney councillors and representatives from hospitality, music and cultural sectors including Solotel CEO Justine Baker gathered at the Lansdowne to discuss: What will it take to revitalise and restore Sydney’s nightlife and grow our night-time economy?

The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) called the meeting on Wednesday night, putting forward a raft of recommendations, and challenging the Berejiklian Government to match the opposition’s efforts ahead of the NSW state election next month.

Bolstered by the political climate, the NTIA hopes to engage a greater number of Sydney’s hoteliers.

“Solotel joined the NTIA because we believe the association can make lasting change to Sydney’s nightlife, with its unique cross-industry approach,” Solotel’s Justine Baker explained.

“We have some incredibly supportive and active members, but need more of the industry to stand up and actively get involved.”

L-R: Justine Baker, CEO Solotel; Kamran Ahmed, CEO, Rave Reviewz; Kerri Glasscock, CEO Sydney Fringe Festival and owner Venue 505; Michael Rodrigues, NTIA spokesperson. Images: Cassandra Hannagan

NTIA chair Michael Rodrigues formally tabled the appointment of a Minister for the Night-time Economy, detailing Sydney’s flagging performance and economic constraints and asking all to “Unite for the Night”.

“Right now, we don’t have a clear vision,” stated Rodrigues, publisher of Sydney’s Time Out Magazine.

“We need gusto and bold action from inside the government. Unless we have a Minister who takes responsibility for the night-time economy, we won’t see the follow-through that’s required to change the dire situation Sydney has found itself in as a cosmopolitan, global city past 8pm.

“It’s actually a miracle what has survived and thrived under such insane regulation.”

Analysis by Deloitte Access Economics found economic activity in Sydney after dark is worth $27bn a year and supports over 230,000 jobs, representing 3.8 per cent of the Australian economy.

By comparison, London’s night economy contributes six per cent of the UK economy, suggesting Sydney’s is seriously under-developed.

The NTIA champions a rebalancing of regulation, and the need to “rebuild the narrative” on Sydney as a vibrant, creative city.

The Association has a five-point policy plan:

1.            The Night Matters

Greater support and focus from Government on the night-time economy, with a specified Minister for the Night-time Economy and appointment of a Night-time Commissioner to work with industry

2.            Balanced venue regulation

Removal of the entertainment consent provisions and specifically removal of the 1:30am lockout laws

3.            One Stop Noise Shop

Centralised contact for noise complaints and management in NSW for licensed premises and commercial entertainment businesses

4.            Red tape

Improve NSW Planning laws and cut red tape unnecessarily restricting entertainment venues from opening

5.            Investment in creative industries

Establishment of a $200m ‘Create NSW’ fund to drive economic potential, potentially supporting artists, production companies, community organisations and commercial operators, as well as investment in cultural infrastructure

“No-one wants the sort of Sydney nightlife the police and doctors are concerned may eventuate … [but] many other major cities get the right balance, in both Australia and overseas.”

NTIA at Lansdowne Hotel