Lock-Out Laws

Small Bar & Kitchen-2
Jul 21 2014

Lock-Out Laws

We’ve all heard about the problems notorious night spot Kings Cross has suffered since the horrific deaths of two young guys that were in the district and killed fatally with ‘one punch’attacks. The NSW parliament moved quickly to introduce tough, many would say too tough, alcohol laws that severely restricted the selling of alcohol after midnight and banning sale of alcohol after 3am in the Kings Cross and CBD areas.

The introduction of the ‘lock-out’ laws were also part of these reforms, which prohibited the entry of anybody into a bar or club after 1:30am. There has been plenty of discussion and debate about the effectiveness of these laws and in addition there has been plenty of (heated) discussion about the fairness of these new laws and how they apply to small bars and restaurants.

Fortunately not too many small bars in Sydney are licensed to open past midnight, so the effects of the new laws weren’t too harsh for small bar owners, but some restaurants in the area were furious that drinks had to be served in plastic cups after 10:30pm. Imagine ordering a $80 bottle of wine to go with your late night dinner, for it to be served in a plastic glass! There was little common sense being applied  to these new laws.

Essentially small bars were thrown in the same pool as the big beers barns and everybody was made to pay the same price for the awful deaths that occurred in Kings Cross as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and apparently the availability of alcohol at all hours of the day and night.  While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the new licensing laws in NSW (the NSW government and police force will claim the new laws have been a resounding success – obviously!) the Victorian government have shown a good deal of common sense and progressive thinking when it comes to licensing laws and smaller venues.

Yes, the Victorian government have recently voted that hours of alcohol sale for venues in Melbourne with capacity of up to 200 people can be extended past the 1am limit currently in place. Yes, Melbourne really is endeavoring to create a more vibrant and a more user-friendly night time economy and once again they are leading the way in Australia.  They’ve done a risk assessment and come to the conclusion that smaller venues are in the ‘low risk’ category when it comes to contributing to alcohol related violence. No surprises there at all really.

Hopefully NSW and Sydney in particular will come to their senses soon and do an honest assessment of the risks that small bars/venue pose to the safety of punters out and about for a good night out. We’re pretty confident that if the NSW government did bother to look at smaller venues, they would conclude that they add to the fabric of a night time economy, and not detract.