NSW Premier Mike Baird has received a lot of flak recently over his comments about the success of the 2014 Lock Out laws. Following a mountain of criticism that arose from growing concerns that Sydney is becoming a ghost town, Baird wrote a lengthy post on his Facebook page saying alcohol-related assaults in Kings Cross were down 60% and assaults in the CBD were down 42.2% (SMH)
The director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, claims that Braid has used these statistics misleadingly, stating Baird ignored the fact that assaults had already been declining since 2008. “When the existing downward trend is taken into account, the decrease since the lockout laws is closer to 45% in Kings Cross and 20% in the CBD”.
But a 45% and 20% decrease is still good right?
While a reduction in violence is always a good thing, we need to ask ourselves, if it is enough of a difference to justify such a significant loss to the vibrancy of our city? Especially considering it is not yet clear whether the reduction in assault was due to a fall in alcohol consumption or a change in the number of visitors to Kings Cross and the CBD entertainment precincts. (Bureau of Crime Statistics)
As Max Hardwick-Morris (a victim of a one punch attack from last Australia day) stated in an email to Mr Baird that “It’s hard to even consider violence on the streets within the lockout zone when no one’s out, if there weren’t any cars on the road, there wouldn’t be any road accidents but we’re not banning people from driving”.
While there is no evidence to suggest the laws have effectively reduced alcohol consumption there are growing accounts of the once booming cultural hub entering an irreversible state of decline. If you have gone out recently you no doubt will have noticed that the night life is dead and the city is not what it used to be. Our best spots: Flinders, Soho, Trademark, Q Bar, Hugos Lounge and the Backroom have all closed down. The foot traffic in Kings Cross alone is down 84% as 42 bars, clubs and small businesses closed when takings fell by 40 per cent or more and foot traffic in Oxford St is likewise down 82%. (Late Night Management Areas Research Phase 4 Report)
For those who claim there is more to Sydney’s vivacity than its club culture, it is important to remember that it is not just clubs and pubs being affected. Small businesses and restaurants are closing too as without clubs drawing in the customers there simply isn’t enough revenue to survive. Sydney’s economy is being adversely affected and our music scene is suffering greatly with fewer places to perform and no one to perform to. NSW is becoming a nanny state that
faces the risk of losing its tourism. No one wants to visit a city without a pulse, where drinks and cigarettes are taxed so highly they are unaffordable and a ridiculous set of rules and regulations stop you from enjoying yourself freely.
As Matt Barrie for news.com has so aptly noted “A special little person has decided that there is a certain time at night when we are all allowed to go out, and there is a certain time that we are allowed into an establishment and a certain time that we are all supposed to be tucked into bed.” We can’t buy a bottle of wine after 10, we can’t be trusted with glasses and we can’t drink shots after 12, unless that shot is mixed with soft drink but not if it’s mixed already in a can. Who decided that dancing your heart out at 11pm is ok but 3am is evil?
When will someone realise that these rules aren’t reducing the amount we drink but merely changing the way in which we drink. Instead of spending ludicrous amounts on alco-pops, we buy straight spirits and mix them ourselves, instead of subjecting ourselves to stupid rules we do most of our drinking at home before we leave and because we know alcohol will stop being served at 3 we drink more, sooner and at a faster rate. These laws are supposed to protect people from violence but all they are doing is exasperating drunks by not letting them into venues. I don’t know about you but I fail to see how forcing angry drunk guys to wander the streets is supposed to reduce violence.
I am not saying that the issue of alcohol related violence does not need to be addresses, but surely there are better ways to go about it that don’t restrict freedoms and destroy the economy. For one, how about putting harsher penalties on those who commit acts of drunken rage? Punish the offenders, not everyone else. Secondly, is it not a logical step to simply increase police presence in problem areas? Maybe that way we can at the very least create more jobs as opposed to shutting down places of employment. Did it never occur to anyone that if the trains ran all night people wouldn’t need to be out till 4am waiting to get home? And how about setting some kind of precedent for bouncers where they must be trained and qualified to a unified and lawfully enforced standard.
If our government was truly interested in our safety you would think that these steps would already be in place but they cost money. You would think if the government really believed in these laws they wouldn’t bend the rules for anyone but the Star City and Barangaroo casinos have 24×7 licences and were conveniently left out
of the lockout area. Considering that several other venues have been given exemptions so they can keep their pokie rooms open, truly forces me to question where the government’s priorities lie and what their agenda actually is.