SBS will tomorrow night host a high-stakes debate on Sydney’s lockout laws between dissenting parties – as a massive survey reports an overwhelmingly No! from the public.

Current affairs provocateur The Feed has lined up a panel to discuss the pro’s and con’s of the trade restrictions that have transformed Sydney’s Kings Cross and CBD entertainment precincts.

The panel will include Keep Sydney Open’s Tyson Koh and anti-lockout State Senator David Leyonhjelm, facing off against St Vincents surgeon Tony Grabs and Queensland Minister and maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham, as well as Michael Christie (father of Daniel Christie) and Helen Crossing of the Kings Cross Residents Association.

Speaking to PubTIC, Koh says he will be arguing the point that late-night trade that is both safe and vibrant is achievable.

“When you embark on any kind of problem-solving with fear and alarm, you make poor, irrational decisions,” said Koh. “That’s what we have done with lockouts and it’s sad that even after Sydney’s mistakes, it’s happening again in Queensland.

“Differentiating between an epidemic and a problem certainly wouldn’t do Aussies any harm.”

Figures show that Australia enjoys a far lower¹ rate of alcohol-fuelled violence than the UK, yet while the motherland strives to understand the underlying cause of violence, Australian authorities think prohibition is a better tactic.

And as public momentum gathers for “Casino Mike” and the NSW Government to re-think the controversial measures, a survey being conducted by global network The Socialites shows the vast majority of participants disagree (see charts below) with the imposed restrictions and rated our authorities’ performance in handling the situation 1.4 out of 5.

Reclaim the Streets rally
Reclaim the Streets rally

Following last month’s Keep Sydney Open protest that saw 15,000 people rally on Sydney streets, the Reclaim The Streets organisation staged another on Saturday, based on the injustice of the laws and the toxic influence of casinos. RTS offered this in a statement:

“It’s obvious to everyone the casinos have bought themselves an exemption to the lockouts. It’s obvious to everyone that property developers are making a fortune building apartments where our dance floors once stood.”

In this context the vocal Kings Cross Residents Association may face some hostility, as it pleads a narcissistic point about the history of the 2011 precinct.

“We remind the City of Sydney Council that we live in a mixed residential area and not an entertainment precinct,” the Residents’ Association of 2011 states on its website.

Koh agrees that the self-interested have starved the public of their voice in the debate over trade restrictions, and that there are many tangible benefits to restoring the city’s nightlife.

“There is something seriously wrong with you if you move into an area with such a reputation and complain about it. It was one of the most famous entertainment precincts in the world, and denying this ultimately led to poor police and government management of the area, which resulted in some of the events we’ve seen in the news.

“We know that the late-night trade is a major employer of young people, and this is vital as many within this group study during the day and need night shifts to support themselves.

“The money that flows into the businesses and finds its way back to the economy though tax revenue and increased disposable incomes is also significant. The exchange of ideas and forming of new bonds has an intangible effect on culture and business, and a more direct impact on happiness.

“When our cities are alive after dark, anything’s possible.”

SBS' Lee Lin Chin in Kings Cross
SBS’ Lee Lin Chin in Kings Cross

Koh will appear on the SBS panel tomorrow night (22 March) at 7:30, which will be poignantly held in a Kings Cross pub.

NOTE: Keep Sydney Open is inviting all interested parties to participate in its petition to FIGHT SYDNEY’S LOCKOUT LEGISLATION!



¹ Violence figures for England & Wales show alcohol-related assaults affecting around 1 in 53 people annually. Australian figures amount to around 1 in 237 people experiencing alcohol-related assaults.

Keep Sydney Open rally
Keep Sydney Open rally
Socialites survey lockouts and last drinks
The Socialites survey results on lockouts and last drinks
The Socialites survey results on bottleshop closure and drink restrictions
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