While Melbourne is set to enjoy the benefits of a raft of cuts to red tape, including the introduction of the coveted Agent of Change principle in a matter of weeks, Sydney is about to face some tougher restrictions that will drastically affect its live music scene.

In a bid to curb the rising cases of alcohol-related violence in the Sydney CBD, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has revealed that a number of liquor licensing reforms will be handed down to the city’s entertainment district, as InTheMix reports, affecting many of the city’s key live music sites.

The Premier’s reforms, which apply to an expanded Sydney precinct stretching from Daring Harbour to Kings Cross, include 1:30 am lockouts on licensed venues, a cease on serving alcohol by 3am, and a statewide enforcement that bottle shops close their doors by 10pm.

Premier O’Farrell also says that ‘periodic risk-based licensing’ will also be applied for some pubs and clubs, with further details and a timeline for the introduction of the venue reforms still forthcoming. “The new measures are tough and I make no apologies for that.”

“The new measures are tough and I make no apologies for that,” Mr O’Farrell tells ABC News, pushing for a Government crackdown in response to the wave of alcohol-related violence in Sydney’s CBD. An issue that’s snatched the media spotlight since the death of Daniel Christie from a fatal one-punch assault in Kings Cross on New Years.

Along with the venue crackdown, new measures include a eight-year minimum sentence for similarly fatal alcohol or drug-fuelled assaults, and increasing the maximum penalty for assault by two years.

The NSW Premier vows the state government will do “whatever it takes to get the message through to people across NSW that it is no longer acceptable to go out and drink yourself stupid, take illicit substances, start fights, ‘coward punch’ people or engage in other assaults thinking you [will] get away with it.”

(Image: A map showing the proposed Sydney CBD Entertainment precinct. Source: NSW Government)

The live music venue crackdown has a dreaded sense of déjà vu to them.

In July 2012, the death of teenager Thomas Kelly in a senseless attack in Kings Cross sparked intense scrutiny of Sydney’s nightlife, as the issue of alcohol-related violence became a political platform for pokie-lined pub venues and politicians alike with Premier O’Farrell looking to introduce a 1am or 2am venue lockout to the CBD among a ream of restrictions.

Sydney’s live music scene fought back, accusing the Government of bad policy in their response to the issue of late-night violence, claiming the crackdown measures would cost them over $1 million a month in lost revenue.

Sydney’s live music venues then went on to face a very difficult 2013 before political support and Sydney City Council pushed for a seachange with the introduction of a “groundbreaking” plan to revitalise the city’s ailing cultural scene last November and gaining the support of many local musicians.

In recent months, theres even been a few new venues cropping up, including the 550-capacity bandroom at The Roller Den and the basement-based venue The Factory Floor, while the legendary live music pub, The Annandale Hotel, is currently out of action as it undergoes a major face-lift after its new owners unceremoniously cancelled all future gigs due to renovations last month.

(Photo: Karl Braasch. Source: Violent Soho @ Oxford Art Factory)

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