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“Half-Pregnant:” Easing “Lockout Laws” Welcome, But Should Be Axed Altogether

September 10, 2019 Business News No Comments Email Email

The Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, said that while the ARA lauded an easing of Sydney’s so-called “lockout laws” the failure to repeal them was akin to being “half pregnant.”

Speaking after the announcement by Premier Gladys Berejiklian that lockouts would cease everywhere except Kings Cross, ahead of the release of a report from the NSW Parliament’s Joint Select Committee Inquiry into Sydney’s night-time economy – which the ARA contributed to – Mr Zimmerman said it was disappointing the government had shunned the opportunity to back rhetoric on Sydney’s international standing with action.

“We’re happy lockout laws will cease to apply across much of central Sydney,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“However, the failure to include Kings Cross smacks of tokenism, and – as we told the Committee when we appeared before it – gives the appearance of wanting to be seen to be doing something for the sake of it.”

Mr Zimmerman said the ARA unreservedly supported the complete liberalisation of trading hours, particularly in major urban centres, and said the outcome announced by the NSW government was absurd.

“If you look at the CBD entertainment precinct, it now has a little island to the east where lockouts will continue to apply despite the rest of the area being unrestricted. It’s like saying you really can be half pregnant,” he said.

Mr Zimmerman said the ARA was deeply sensitive to the deaths of two young men before the lockout laws took effect five years ago, but noted their deaths offered a false premise to justify the lockout laws in Kings Cross.

“Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie were attacked at 9pm and 10pm; 1.30am lockouts wouldn’t have saved either of them. Using these young men to continue to justify this gratuitous measure is very poor,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman said the government decision sabotaged its rhetoric that Sydney is “Australia’s only global city.”

“Global cities don’t close; global cities don’t subject themselves to a regulatory mishmash and a hotchpotch of conflicting rules that make it difficult for businesses to trade. This looks very silly, and does nothing for traders in what is one of Sydney’s biggest international tourist drawcards in Kings Cross,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman said the ARA looked forward to the release of the full report after it was tabled on 30 September.

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