News, Culture & Society

Friday night drinks will be halted in Sydney to encourage patrons to vote in the state election

More than 30 Sydney venues will temporarily cease drinks service ahead of Saturday’s state election to take a stand against debilitating lockout laws.

The Unite for the Night campaign encourages venues to rally patrons to vote for political parties willing to change the city’s dwindling nightlife. 

As part of the campaign, participating venues will pause trading for five minutes at 6pm on Friday and a manager or bar attendant will address the customers with a prepared speech.

‘We have a venue crisis in NSW. We have lost more than 176 venues since the introduction of lockout laws in 2014, and if things don’t improve soon we stand to lose more,’ the Unite for the Night speech begins.

One participating venue wears ‘sorry not sorry for partying’ t-shirts as part of the Unite for the Night campaign

The Unite for the Night campaign encourages venues to rally patrons to vote for political parties willing to change Sydney's dwindling nightlife

The Unite for the Night campaign encourages venues to rally patrons to vote for political parties willing to change Sydney’s dwindling nightlife

As part of the campaign, participating venues will pause trading for five minutes at 6pm and a manager or bar attendant will address the customers with a prepared speech

As part of the campaign, participating venues will pause trading for five minutes at 6pm and a manager or bar attendant will address the customers with a prepared speech

‘The NSW state election is on the 23rd March. Now’s the time to get your facts right.’

The Unite for the Night speech then ties Saturday’s state election to proposed policy on nightlife and the live music industry.  

‘Which party has policies to support Sydney’s night time economy? Who will cut the red tape and over-regulation that is strangling our venues? Who will support live music and the creative economy?’ the bar attendant will question. 

‘If you care about nightlife and you want your vote to count we ask you to check out the election scorecard at uniteforthenight.org.au.’

‘Thank you for listening and thank you for supporting this venue.’

The scorecard compares the responses of the Coalition, ALP, Greens, Keep Sydney Open and Christian Democrats.

The scorecard compares the responses of the Coalition, ALP, Greens, Keep Sydney Open and Christian Democrats

The scorecard compares the responses of the Coalition, ALP, Greens, Keep Sydney Open and Christian Democrats

Lockout laws have been a contentious issue since their introduction in February 2014 following a string of one-punch attacks

Lockout laws have been a contentious issue since their introduction in February 2014 following a string of one-punch attacks

Policies included on the scorecard show which parties are willing to implement ministers for the night-time economy and for music.

It also shows which parties will remove the 1.30am lockout laws and the liquor freeze.

According to the campaign’s scorecard, the two major parties have not indicated they would remove the lockout laws. 

Lockout laws have been a contentious issue since their introduction in February 2014 following a string of one-punch attacks.

Then Premier Barry O’Farrell rushed the legislation after police and media pressure to crack down on alcohol-fuelled violence.

While none of the victims died after midnight, the NSW Government saw it fit to regulate entry, shots and last drinks.

Venues supporting the Unite for the Night campaign stretch across the city's remaining nightlife hubs on Oxford Street and in Newtown

Venues supporting the Unite for the Night campaign stretch across the city’s remaining nightlife hubs on Oxford Street and in Newtown

The campaign urges voters to make an informed decision about who is likely to change lockout laws

The campaign urges voters to make an informed decision about who is likely to change lockout laws

The law has attracted plenty of criticism from partygoers and business owners alike who claim they have come at the cost of popular venues, night spots and the late-night entertainment industry.

Venues supporting the Unite for the Night campaign stretch across the city’s remaining nightlife hubs on Oxford Street and in Newtown. 

Andres Walters, the owner of Old Mate’s Place on Clarence Street in Sydney’s CBD, said the campaign was close to his heart.

‘I’ve seen a lot of people that I know and that I’ve learnt off and respect have venues closed,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘It’s one of those things that’s probably close to the heart’. 

Andres, who has worked in the industry for 15 years, said his venue was participating in the campaign to enlighten people about a culture he believes has changed.

‘Sydney, we’re bigger, we’re better, we’re stronger, we’re probably smarter than the laws we have in place.’

‘I think we probably all know that but we haven’t really done anything about that’.

‘This (the campaign) is just a way you can find out a bit more about it (lockout laws).’

Andres said the campaign is a productive and constructive way to tackle the issue and hopes it will teach patrons about the repercussions of what has happened to Sydney’s once vibrant nightlife.

The Unite for the Night service halt of five minutes started on Wednesday and will follow through until Friday, the day before the state election. 

Unite for the Night, a campaign created by the Night Time Industries Association, aims to create positive change for Sydney’s night time economy in educating voters about the policies and commitments of the major parties.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Unite for the Night for comment. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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