A Greens MP has called for more late night venues and entertainment options to combat alcohol-fuelled violence, arguing that prohibitive lockout laws do not address the causes of such violence and only make matters worse.

Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Newtown MP Jenny Leong argues, “Lockouts don’t stop alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and violence.” Leong’s op-ed comes days after venues in Newtown trialled their own 3am lockouts and drink restrictions.

However, Leong believes this is the wrong approach. Instead, she would like to see more small late-night venues, more live music, more late-night food options, and more late-running transport options.

“It’s not like Cinderella: sexist, transphobic and racist dickheads don’t magically appear after 3am. Unfortunately, they can surface at any time.” While she commends the efforts of the venues involved in the trial lockout, she believes it won’t work in the long run.

“We should be able to dance for as long as we want, have a nightcap at 5am, and a game of pool after a long night at work,” Leong writes. “We should also be able to walk down the street safely and without fear.”

“To do it we need strategies that foster a diverse late-night atmosphere, strategies that address aggression and alcohol-fuelled violence. It is possible.” Leong goes on to suggest moving away from a prohibition-era mindset.

“Let’s ditch prohibition and focus on creating the type of late-night environment we want: live music – in venues and on the streets – dancing like there’s no one watching, laughing around crap shots on pool tables, good food, feeling safe to walk down the street,” she writes.

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The self-imposed Newtown restrictions come amid a groundswell of criticism aimed at the Sydney lockout laws, with critics arguing that the laws have not reduced violence in the city but merely pushed it out of Kings Cross and the CBD and into areas like Newtown.

As FasterLouder notes, a Bureau of Crime and Statistics report from April found large drops in both the number of people and assaults in the CBD and Kings Cross, but wasn’t able to determine whether that has led to increased violence in “displacement” areas like Newtown.

After transgender musician Stephanie McCarthy was assaulted during a performance in Newtown back in June, critics cited the incident as an example of the new undesirable element that has begun flooding Newtown since the introduction of the lockouts.

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