A gathering at Parliament House on October 25th will coincide with the introduction of a bill that seeks to repeal the controversial licensing law.
Earlier this month, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro reportedly spoke in favour of abandoning the controversial licensing restrictions by the end of the year, making him the first senior state government member to do so since lockouts were introduced back in early 2014. Since then, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party MP Robert Borsak announced via Facebook that he would be introducing a bill to be debated in parliament on October 25th that will seek to repeal the laws, saying they "are killing our city. No other international city of similar standing to Sydney has such a law striking at the heart of its nightlife."
Anti-lockouts group Keep Sydney Open, which has recently registered as a political party ahead of the next NSW state election in March 2019, has responded by arranging a rally to take place outside Parliament House while the bill is being debated. "We know there's been a push to have the lockout laws scrapped from within the government," said KSO spokesperson Tyson Koh. "This is our chance to reinforce at this crucial time how deeply despised these laws are and how they have crippled Sydney."
The lockout laws—the term broadly given to the city's licensing restrictions that include 1:30 AM last-entry and 3 AM last drinks for venues within the CBD and Kings Cross districts—have been instated for close to five years, in which time there has been a net loss of 176 venues across the city, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. In late 2016, an independent review of the legislation resulted in a 30-minute extension of the lockouts for venues providing live entertainment or cultural events, however the impact of this change has been negligible. "It's time for the government and opposition to atone for ruining Sydney's nightlife, but it's not too late to rewrite our story and become the 24-hour city we need to be," said Koh.
The rally will begin at the top of Martin Place in Sydney's CBD, with precise timing to be announced via Keep Sydney Open's Facebook event page and social media channels.
For more on the lockout laws, read our in-depth feature from 2015.