Former High Court Judge Ian Callinan's highly-anticipated independent review of Sydney's controversial lockout laws was published today. While Callinan's findings affirm the laws' objectives of turning the city's Kings Cross and Oxford Street precincts into "safer, quieter and cleaner areas," it also suggests that laws could be relaxed by half an hour. They were originally introduced in April 2014 in order to reduce alcohol-related violence in the city, and have forced venues to close at 1:30 AM and stop serving alcohol at 3 AM.
Callinan accordingly recommends that only the parts of venues specifically providing live entertainment stay open until 2AM, and serve alcohol until 3:30AM. Expressing concern that "live entertainment and those employed in it (including sound and light technicians) have lost opportunities of employment," he says the extension could lead to a "restoration of vibrancy and employment opportunities in the Precincts."
In order to test effectiveness of the half hour relaxation, he recommends that the change be implemented for a trial period of two years. His report emphasizes that the proposed extension would not come without its potential downsides, though. "It needs to be understood again however that such a relaxation carries the risk of greater density and consumption of more alcohol in the Precincts," he said.
New South Wales should also allow people to purchase take-away alcohol until 11 PM instead of 10, Callinan suggests.
Callinan's methodology for compiling the report involved reviewing statistics, research papers, reviewing over 1,800 public submissions, and interviewing over 50 people. The New South Whales government appointed Callinan for the review in February.
Following nearly two years of backlash since the laws' introduction in April 2014, critics of the laws argue that they're bad for the nightlife economy, also causing an exodus of young people and diminishing the overall vibrance of the city, leading to cultural dilution.
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