Thousands of Sydneysiders attended a Keep Sydney Open rally at Belmore Park on Sunday to protest against the NSW government’s lockout laws.
It was the second mass protest this year against the laws, which impose a strict 1:30am lockout policy and 3am last drinks throughout the CBD. The policy has crippled the CBD’s nightlife and music culture and have been blamed for the closure of several venues in Kings Cross and surrounds.
City of Sydney councillor Jess Scully, who estimated nearly 10,000 people attended the rally, said the lockout laws “are in the top three causes that people in Sydney are upset about, they’re scared about and they want to change”.
The laws were introduced in 2014 following the one-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie in an attempt to reduce street violence late at night.
An independent review by former High Court Judge Ian Callinan of the laws and their effects found Sydney’s live entertainment scene has been severely affected. The report, commissioned by the state government, found the laws could be relaxed in venues offering “genuine” live entertainment and suggested that be done for a trial period of two years.
In his introduction to the report Mr Callinan noted “I am concerned that live entertainment and those employed in it (including sound and light technicians etc) have lost opportunities of employment.”
The rally was supported by many Australian musicians and artists including Art vs. Science, Gang of Youth and Hayley Mary of the Jezabels. – Report and photo by Fern McNulty, video presented by CJ Cowen, produced by Phil Logan