You get out what you put in: what you need to know about the lockout review

kings cross2
Opinion by Sam Bygrave

So after some 1,850 submissions from the public and some seven months, the Hon. Ian Callinan AC has released his review into the lockout laws.

And, well, it looks like Sven Almenning’s previous article which predicted the lockout laws won’t change may end up being proven right.

So what do you need to know about what the review suggests?

Callinan has suggested a trial relaxation of the lockout part of the laws for “genuine entertainment venues” in the entertainment precincts for two years, with the the lockout kicking in at 2.00am instead 1:30am. (And he doesn’t mean the mere “mechanical reproduction” of live music, so who knows if that means DJs are live entertainment).


And that’s it. That’s all you need to know — because that’s all there is. There’s some off-premise suggestions, but that’s it.

It’s not even Calling’s fault. Not really — he’s worked to his terms of reference. You get out what you put in. He was tasked with reviewing the amendments to the legislation — you know, the lockout laws — and determining whether or not they were achieving their aim of reducing alcohol-fuelled violence. The BOSCAR stats show a drop in assaults. So the laws work — when it comes to that measure.

The review doesn’t suggest much because it was never intended to. It doesn’t address the arbitrary nature of the laws. You can go to the Strawberry Hills Hotel and drink until 5am. You can go to the Casino at any hour of the day or night and get let in. In the CBD itself, you better be in by 1:30am. If you’re on one side of Darling Harbour the laws apply, on the other side it’s business as usual.

The problem with the laws is they don’t seem just. They seem arbitrary. They feel like an overreaction. They affect all venues, good and bad. They affect owners and operators and staff and guests who haven’t done anything wrong. They don’t distinguish between venues that hold 60 people and venues that hold 1000. and it feels like the 99% of people who do the right thing have been punished for the actions of a wrongheaded, reckless repugnant one percent who would be better off locked up.

And it sure feels like the Callinan review gives the government the result that it wanted. Perhaps that’s because that was the whole point of it.

The thing is, this isn’t an issue that would move any seats from the government’s column to the opposition’s, so why would the government change their position or relax the rules? You can imagine, right, that any government that waters down the laws would be crucified should anyone get killed by an idiot drunk.

The lockout laws look like they’ll be around for a while.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.