Sydney live music venues are currently suffering under the yoke of tough curfews and lockout laws that were introduced last month, after being rushed through Parliament, implementing 1:30am lockouts, 3am last drinks, and statewide closure of bottle shops from 10pm.
Now Melbourne should follow suit, at least according to a coalition of health groups who have applauded NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s strict implementations to curb alcohol-related violence and street assaults in the Sydney CBD, saying that Victoria should introduce similar measures.
The Victoria branches of the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons have united in the call for introducing the tough reforms to the state, as The Age reports.
The Cancer Council of Australia has also voiced their support of a crackdown, with Victorian Chief Executive Todd Harper warning against the long-term harm of excessive alcohol abuse linked to around 5,000 cases of cancer in Australia each year.
The coalition of health groups are lobbying politicians to commit to measures to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence before November’s state election with a set of tough legislative changes that are closely modelled on Sydney’s live music-harming reforms. The measures include 3am last drinks in pubs and clubs, 10pm closures for bottle shops, extending a freeze on new late-night licensees, and more…
They include 3am last drinks in pubs and clubs, 10pm closures for bottle shops, extending a freeze on new late-night licensees, as well as restrictions on serving of particular drinks and packaged liquor late at night.
The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association are also on board the licensing crackdown for what it’s calling “the five steps to a safer, healthier Victoria.” The Association’s Sam Biondo tells ABC News, “the burden of disease is really significant as related to this legal product. So something needs to be done… At every corner, the milk bars are being replaced by alcohol vending establishments.”
The severe lockout laws that were passed up in Sydney have been hailed by Premier Barry O’Farrell and State Police as a success following the litmus test of the recent Mardi Gras, as The Daily Telegraph reported, despite ongoing reports of alcohol-related street violence.
Members of the music industry and supporters of Sydney’s live music scene however have been fighting against the detrimental effects of the lockout laws, which has led some venue licensees to cut costs and staff due to the financial losses triggered by the reforms.
“We don’t want live music venues to close because they’ve been lumped in with venues whose sole purpose is to sell booze,” said MusicNSW’s Kirsty Brown in a community forum last month, organised by members of the Sydney Late Night Culture Alliance.
With a mission statement to ‘Keep Sydney Open!’, the Alliance includes nearly 40 music organisations who are fighting for the rights of the 143 licensed pubs, hotels, and clubs that classify as live music venues that are affected by the Sydney lockouts, and represent a mere 6% of the city’s 2,200+ registered liquor licensed venues (as City Of Sydney’s “groundbreaking”action plan from last year points out).
The call for Melbourne lockouts also follows in the wake of a number of live music venues experiencing a downturn while the Victorian Government’s coveted ‘Agent of Change’ planning principle – aimed to protect venues from noise-complaints – still awaits to be implemented.
Historic St Kilda icon The Espy has been on the market for sale (with expressions of interest closing yesterday), the Barley Corn Hotel in Collingwood exits the live music scene, while The Palace Theatre has once again come under threat from property developers as new plans have been submitted to City of Melbourne for approval.
(Photo: Carl Dziunka. Source: Georgia Fair, 14th February 2014 @ Ding Dong Lounge Gallery.)