By Max Tillman

The NSW Government plans to repeal Sydney’s lockout laws effective from January 14th in the CBD and Oxford Street, with Kings Cross set to remain under the current legislation. 

The controversial laws, enacted in 2014 under the O’Farrell Government, were primarily designed to stem the flow of alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney’s nightlife districts. 

But six years later their effectiveness is a matter of debate, with “mixed results in crime trends” and a “downward trend in the number of core nighttime establishments in the Sydney CBD” according to The City of Sydney’s submission to State Parliament’s Inquiry into Sydney’s night-time economy last June. 

Professor Phillip Wadd, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at UNSW believes it was the thousands of public submissions to the committee that helped crystallise what was at stake. 

“Submissions to the inquiry were pretty compelling in terms of looking at other ways in which we could stimulate the economy,” Dr. Wadds said. 

“Not just purely relying on the sale of alcohol and kind of drinking venues, but actually trying to encourage a broader suite of activities in the city late at night.” 

The creative arts were one of the many industries that suffered due to the lockouts, with the City of Sydney citing a 6.7% decrease in the number of creative industries business in the CBD since 2012. 

Under the new changes, ‘last drinks’ will be extended by thirty minutes to 3:30 AM in the CBD and Oxford Street. Restrictions on serving cocktails, shots, and drinks in glass after midnight will be relaxed, and the 1:30 am last entry rule for venues in the CBD and Oxford Street will be abolished. 

In their submissions to State Parliament, the City of Sydney cites “80 percent less foot traffic” in Kings Cross since the introduction of the lockouts.. 

Even as the laws are repealed, the transformative effect they have had on Kings Cross will be their most enduring legacy according to Dr. Wadds. 

“Anybody who’s gone out in Kings Cross over the last couple of years has seen how dramatically it has changed.” 

“And the fact is that’s never going to return.” 

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