Sydney's Nightlife Lockout Laws Seem to Be Failing
Keep Sydney Open's Tyson Koh believes conditions in the city are actually worse because of the harsh laws.
Photo by Tim Levy
In April last year, Sydney, Australia passed new legislation in an attempt to combat alcohol-fueled violence in the city, making it impossible to enter (or leave and reenter) a venue after 1:30 AM or buy a drink anywhere after 3 AM. It also resulted in increased fines for disorderly conduct. Since then, we've talked to everyone from club owners to DJs to key industry players about these "lockout laws" and their crippling effect on the city's after-dark culture.
In an enlightening new interview with the Australian website Music Feeds, Tyson Koh—the Campaign Manager of Keep Sydney Open, an organization that's fighting to "support safe nights in a global city"—talks about common misconceptions surrounding the legislation, and what some other possible solutions for violence related to nightlife could be.
Koh argues that conditions are actually worse in Sydney because of the laws, considering that they've lead to an 80% decrease in foot traffic. On top of that, they've had the effect of taking a very serious toll on the city's nightlife and cultural vibrance in general, hurting lots of local businesses. In the last eighteen months of gathering statistics, Keep Sydney Open has found that near 500 jobs have been lost, and roughly 15 venues have closed. He accuses the laws of ignoring the importance of younger people to Sidney's ability to thrive: "Most people don't stop and think about who really makes our cities great," he says. "Musicians, cafe, restaurant and venue owners, chefs, designers... these are all young, talented and passionate people."
"The objective is to implement measures that actually address violence rather than shift it or scrape it under a rug," he insists.
Of the possible routes for addressing the situation aside from curfews, he gives several suggestions, including improving transportation, changing the way licensing police work with venues, and installing more first-aid tents.
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