Sydney’s nightlife appears to finally be on the mend four years after the State Government introduced crippling lockout laws.
While dozens of businesses were forced to close their doors as a result of the controversial lockout restrictions, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests nightlife in the City of Sydney is starting to recovering.
The number of operating venues in the city rose by 1.8 per cent to 4,872 establishments in 2017.
Sydney’s nightlife appears to finally be on the mend four years after the State Government introduced crippling lockout laws
Sydney city turned into a ghost town after the introduction of lockout laws, with many patrons choosing to stay home instead
Overall sales also saw a significant increase, growing by 6.3 per cent to boost the overall nighttime economy in the city to $4.05 billion.
Despite the resurgence, alcohol consumption is still outweighed by food as the strongest sector in the nightlife economy, the report found.
‘The greatest growth over this period was in the drink sub-sector, with increases in establishments (+4.9%), employment (+8.7%) and turnover (+6.5%), well above the NSW and national averages,’ The Guardian reported.
‘This growth comes off the back of decline between 2014 and 2015 (-8%) following the introduction of the lockouts in February 2014.’
The laws were introduced to combat late night violence, especially in notorious areas in the inner city and Kings Cross, but were widely ridiculed for punishing the wider population based on a few, isolated attacks.
Despite consistent protests and pleas to lighten restrictions over the four years, the government have proved unyielding in their defense of the laws.
Many of the establishments in Sydney were detrimentally impacted by the lockout laws, from live music venues (pictured) to bars and restaurants
The latest statistics come after a nightlife panel was established, similar to those in New York and London, comprised of 15 professionals from the entertainment, hospitality, live music and business industries.
The group met with businesses and other government agencies to re-establish an after-hours scene, and re-ignite Sydney’s status as a 24-hour city, Broadsheet reported.
In response to continued industry lobbying, laws were amended in December of 2016 to allow small bars to operate until 2am without the need for security, as long as guests didn’t exceed 100 people.
This has seen an increase in the amount of small bars popping up within the city, as Sydney-siders change their drinking habits to reflect the new reality.
Laws were amended in December of 2016 to allow small bars to operate until 2am without the need for security, as long as guests didn’t exceed 100 people
Meanwhile in Melbourne, a culture of good food continues to drive the $3.2 billion nightlife economy.
The sector continues to grow and boom each year, with a 12 per cent rise recorded in 2017.
Melbourne Mayor Sally Capp said the statistics reflect a similar cultural shift to that seen in Sydney.
‘It’s particularly pleasing that drink sales are down given that we now have up to a million people visiting the city each day,’ she said on Thursday.
After the laws were introduced, Sydney nightlife plummeted, with Friday and Saturday nights in the city nowhere near as busy as what they once were
As the Sydney panel continues to advocate for change and discover workarounds for the lockout laws, their hope to rejuvenate the state’s once thriving nightlife increases with it.
‘It’s about viewing Sydney’s nightlife as a whole ecosystem and working out how it all connects, and possible ways small interventions could see significant change,’ the advocate for live music, Emily Collins, said.
‘A vibrant nightlife doesn’t have any one look. It’s 70-year-olds dancing in the street. It’s teenagers seeing their first live punk gig in a music venue. It’s new lovers seeing the sunrise after a night of dancing. It’s eating your favourite pasta at 3am in a crowded restaurant.’
‘It’s police pointing you in the right direction when you can’t find that awesome new music venue. It’s families cycling around the harbour after dinner. It’s buying a new book for your best friend when you finish work at 10pm. It’s being able to go out and it cost you less than $50. It’s about choosing to go out, to be with people, instead of staying home.’
Despite consistent protests and pleas to lighten restrictions over the four years, the government have proved unyielding in their defense of the laws