The Lockout Laws Are Gone, But Is It Too Little Too Late For Sydney's Nightlife?

Has our definition of a 'night out' changed for good?

Over the weekend, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the unexpected decision to scrap Sydney’s controversial lockout laws in an effort to revive the city’s nightlife and after-dark economy.

Sydney is open once again. Credit: Giphy

The 1:30am lockout laws, which were enforced in 2014, are set to be lifted at venues in Sydney’s CBD by the end of the year, however Kings Cross will still retain the restrictions.

Credit: Twitter

“It’s time to enhance Sydney’s nightlife…we need to step it up,” Berejiklian told the SMH. “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that.”

It’s a massive step in the right direction for organisations like Keep Sydney Open and all of the people who have been campaigning for change over the last five years. Lifting of the laws will also hopefully help to refresh Sydney’s nightlife and economy as intended, however, it begs the question: is it too little, too late?

Keep Sydney Open Rally, 2016. Credit: AAP Image/Paul Miller

Last year, figures from Liquor & Gaming NSW showed that 418 licensed premises had closed in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross since 2014. According to Labor member John Graham, this amounts to a net loss of 176 venues since the laws came into effect. 

Once bustling Sydney pubs, clubs and bars including The Flinders Hotel, Hugos, Soho, and Backroom were forced to close as a result of lockout laws, and Kings Cross venue World Bar reported estimated revenue was down by 25% from 2014 to 2016. 

Forcing Sydney into a nanny state left businesses with no choice but to shut shop and also resulted in a drop in live performance revenue. According to a report from APRA AMCOS there was a 15% overall decrease in the value of expenditure on live artist performers from 2013 to 2015.

The lockout laws originally came into effect as an attempt to curb alcohol-related violence after teenager Daniel Christie was tragically killed from a one-hit punch in Kings Cross in January 2014.

Daniel Christie’s memorial service, 2014. Credit: AAP Image/Fairfax pool, Wolter Peeters

While the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported a 26% reduction in assaults in lockout areas, a 2017 report showed a 12% increase in assaults in areas adjacent to the lockout precinct including The Star, Ultimo and Surry Hills and a 17% increase in Double Bay, Newtown and Bondi. 

Sadly, enforcing lockout laws in certain Sydney suburbs just pushed the problem into neighbouring areas. Much like a pair of ill-fitting Spanx, the violent behaviour AKA the fat was redistributed just outside the restricted area. 

The Star Casino. Credit: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

It feels like the affect the lockout laws has had on business, culture, and the displacement of alcohol-related violence has changed our definition of ‘nightlife.’ A ‘night out’ in Sydney has become stripped back with limited options, violence in once peaceful places and a strict curfew that, despite being scrapped, feels part and parcel with our Friday and Saturday nights. 

A mood. Credit: Giphy

Will the removal of Sydney’s lockout laws ever reverse the damage that has been done over the past five years? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we can take comfort in knowing we’ve at least taken a step in the right direction to keeping Sydney open.

Brazil Mayor's Attempt To Ban Marvel Comic For Same-Sex Kiss Backfired In The Best Way

Another perfect example of the Streisand effect.

Over the weekend, we learned that when you attack someone’s freedom of expression, they’ll fight back even harder. Case in point: this Brazilian mayor being blocked from banning a Marvel comic book because of a same-sex kiss.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Marcelo Crivella, who is a former bishop and the current mayor of Rio de Janeiro, recently demanded that the comic book Avengers: The Children’s Crusade be withdrawn from a book fair because it featured content “unsuitable for children.”

The content Crivella is referring to is an illustration of two male characters, Wiccan and Hulkling, kissing in a loving embrace. In a tweet explaining his attempt to wrap copies of the graphic novel in black plastic and have it confiscated, Crivella wrote, “We need to protect our children. As a result, we have determined that Biennial organisers collect books with content that is unsuitable for minors.”

“It is not correct for them to have early access to subjects that do not agree with their ages.”

Credit: Twitter

It’s safe to say, Crivella’s call to action didn’t go down well. According to the Guardian, the president of Brazil’s supreme court overruled a court decision that had endorsed his move and the country’s biggest newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo, published the illustration on its front page. 

Credit: Folha de S.Paulo

“It is an attack on freedom of expression,” said Mariana Zahar, the VP of the National Union of Book Publishers told the Guardian. “We will fight this to the end.”

Crivella’s move continued to backfire when YouTuber Felipe Neto bought 14,000 copies of LGBT-themed comic books and gave them out for free. The vlogger, who has 34 million followers, wrapped them in black plastic with the warning: “Book inappropriate for backward…and prejudiced people.” 

The best part of this whole story is the fact that by the time Crivella asked for the comic book to be confiscated, it had already sold out. 

This is the perfect example of the Streisand Effect: if you attempt to hide, remove or censor information, it’s only going to attract attention.

“Although we [are] going through the most frightening government in terms of repression since the dictatorship, this time we have a united and engaged people who will not permit that censorship, the imposition of others’ moral values,” Neto told The Guardian.

U.S. Schools Designed To Minimise Shooting Deaths Is A Depressing State Of Affairs

An all new low.

We’ve reached a rather depressing state of affairs with the news that U.S. schools are now being designed to minimise mass shooting deaths.

According to Futurism, a town in Michigan is spending $48M on updating Fruitport High School – not with a football pitch or swimming pool, but with features to help students survive.

Some of the features include curved hallways, to shorten a shooter’s line of sight, and designated “shadow zones” where students can take cover. The updates will also feature impact-resistant window coverings and a “special lockdown system” which can isolate threats with the push of a button.

Credit: Twitter

Speaking to As It Happens, school superintendent Bob Szymoniak said “given the nature of our country these days, the number of school shootings that we have, and they just don’t seem to stop, it seemed responsible and appropriate for us to factor in as many security elements into the design of the building as we could.”

Later, Szymoniak said helping to build a school designed to protect students from mass shooters is “one of the saddest aspects of my career, having to come to terms with that.”

Credit: Twitter

The Washington Post reports that more than 228,000 students have been exposed to gun violence since the tragic Columbine High School Shooting which claimed the lives of 12 students and one teacher in 1999.

Students at a gun control rally on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, 2018.
Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Another report from ABC News, states that there have been at least 19 deadly mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2019. 

The most recent mass shooting occurred in Texas last Saturday. The gunman killed seven people and left 25 others injured, and somehow, the state has since loosened firearm laws. 

Odessa, Texas, 2018. Credit: Photo by Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Some of the new laws allow weapons and armed marshals on school grounds, guns in foster homes, and firearms in places of worship. It’s hard to fathom how this kind of legislation could pass just hours after so many lives had been lost to someone wielding a gun. 

It’s also difficult to shrug off the fact that schools are now having to cough up for a redesign because it’s one of the only ways they can keep students safe. The solution seems pretty straightforward – so why has it gotten to this point?

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