You’ve been served: Charlie Lehmann delivers his truth on the Lockout Laws


Charlie Lehmann, owner of Ramblin’ Rascals, educated citizen of Sydney and general night-time enthusiast, has been openly dismissive of the believed corruption surrounding Sydney’s Lockout Laws. In a 3-PART series, he gives Meet The People, a strip bare view of the saga from the side we don’t see, the inside.

Not everyone really understands the lockout laws, their practice or their purpose. Actually, most laws and regulations are confusing to the majority, hence our lack of interest and involvement in politics. This, my friends, is not a good thing. Why? Because we’re readily willing to assume any truth fed to us by way of government documentation and subsequent media coverage, then one-day you lose all your fun, shiny toys and no one is happy.

Sure, we go with what they tell us on the news, in the papers; we absorb the associated numbers of violence with liquor like a sponge. But should you look a little deeper, like into some organisations wallets, you’d see there’s much more to the lockout laws than meets the drunken eye.

Tech entrepreneur, most notably known as the Founder of, Matt Barrie, is someone that is both passionate and disturbed by the lockout laws and the over-regulation of the nightlife in Sydney. While it’s great that someone in his position has stepped in to throw their metaphorical weight around, what’s more interesting is that bartenders like me have been delivering the same message (less a few stats) as this since the law’s inception.

I’m going to take the next three part series to expose the insights, thoughts and feelings of those revolving inside the industry and clarify what it is we see from the inside out. I intend to outline each aspect of the “lockout” laws and provide an opinion as to why they are ludicrous that will be supported by facts and numbers, because that’s what seems to reign supreme here. Let’s start with the gambling equation.

Casino boogie

To be honest, I wish I could make a little animated feature that portrayed the idiocy of the lockout laws. It would most likely play out like this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 3.53.50 pmImagine. Three extremely fat cats, dressed in emerald three-piece suits, sitting on top of a roulette wheel or maybe a flashing poker machine, next to them lazy slugs dribbling legislation over a small map of Sydney, drawn in crayon, devising what areas are blanketed by said stupid law, cut to a shot from above where business owners are portrayed as ants essentially being stepped on all along the way.

Too bad I’m no filmmaker, I’m just a bartender, bar owner, but I can assure you I’m no ant.  The blatant corruption and collusion by the rich and the state government is a travesty and an attack on the democratic processes in place to allow effective checks and balances of power. Why hasn’t the Independent Commission Against Corruption read the statistics put forth by Matt Barrie that so clearly outlines this collusion and gone after these fat cats? Is this because our pockets don’t go as deep?

It’s all about the money, honey

We have been told these laws were implemented to disperse anti-social behaviour relating to alcohol fuelled violence but if any inquisitive person looks closely it is people with vested interests protecting said interests and making huge profit from it via gambling.

Recently the butchers of small bars and hospitality, also known as the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing, more than openly jerked off a bunch of AHA venues and allowed for them to break the ‘oh so important’ liquor laws so some poor old sod could feed his life savings into a machine just before Christmas.

Venues who actively provide revenue to the state government were allowed to skip the laws swapping later hours in return for an earlier last call all designed so the pokie players could keep on feeding machines.

As an owner who does not have these machines, my venue would not even be considered for such an exemption even though there is no way in the world I’d want one, just so these people could feed their kids tuition fees into a money hungry machine.

This is only one aspect of the laws but it is a very large one. Not only has The Star and Australian Hotels Association venues benefited from the laws but they are also thriving from it.

Fat cat’s have fat pockets

The Lockout Laws were introduced in March 2014 by the NSW State Government and since then both The Star and AHA venues profit margins have increased significantly with one report by its parent company Echo Entertainment outlining “the Star’s underlying revenue was $715 million – up $109 million, or 15 per cent, on the same period last year.” (Michael Koziol, SMH, August 30, 2014)

Within this same period we have seen patronage decline in lockout zones and it wouldn’t take a genius to put to together and see a correlation between no patrons and a fall in violence.  It’s like taking away all the ice cream shops in Bondi and then wondering why ice cream consumption has decreased?

However, those areas with no lockouts have seen an upswing in violence and with The Star again topping this with the Australian Bureau of Crime statistics stating in 2014 that  “between February and September last year there were an average of 6.3 assaults per month”. But shhhh lets not talk ill of something that is a revenue stream for the state government.

Is the government in the house, anyone?

If our state government were actually concerned with anti-social behaviour it’d be best to target the money draining machines that affects the lowest socio-economic levels of Australian society and would by no means intend to destroy small businesses that only want to contribute to a vibrant and culturally significant nightlife. These cases and statistics have been so blatantly trumped up that it’s hard to believe people can support them when they so transparently support special interests of the rich and powerful.

There is a problem with antisocial behaviour and drinking but to place the entire onus on small business and small establishments is plain wrong. As Matt Barrie outlined perfectly “Where landlords can be commercially punished to the point of insolvency due to the actions of a tenant. Where commercial businesses can be punished to the point of bankruptcy due to the actions of their customers. Where the NSW State Liberal Government bankrupts businesses due to the actions of completely unrelated parties, people that have never been a customer or even walked onto the premises.”

We as a people need to draw the line at the Orwellian tactics of the state government and completely tear down all collusion between special interests groups and the levers of government. This nanny state is only the beginning, Orwell stated “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary” and Sydney you are kidding yourself if you think these government statistics are whole-heartedly the truth.

Editor’s Note: We deem the Lockout Laws debate as an open conversation. We invite you to contribute and have your say, which ever side of the coin you may lie on.

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  1. Can a law firm please take the same reasons and paper work that brought in the laws and apply for them to be covered over the now most violent district in Sydney (the casino) or am I making too much sense?

    If you throw away an apple for having brown spots on it why would you eat a different apple with similar brown spots on it?


  2. My personal belief is we have become complacent with state and national government. They are portrayed as incompeident, corrupted and in their position for self interest (more money) and not for the people that voted them in! The scariest thing is we sit back and trust they are doing what’s right because we are to busy with our own lives. These alcohol and even smoking draconian laws show how much we let the government just pass laws that have taken away our rights of “freedom of action”. A friend of my coined a term for what is happening in Austraia “keep the people FAT, DUMD,HAAPY!

    FAT- promote in the Media fast foods and make them super trendy targeted at the drinking culture “anyone for a Cronut, hamburger pizza? with a 1/1 ratio of fat and sugar?”

    DUMD- spoon feed the populas a mind diet of fear and fantasy… channel 7,9 & 10 with their reality shows! radio: the Kyle and Jackieo show and the new papers the daliy telegraph and the Sydney herald please ask yourself what are we teaching each other?

    HAPPY use the main 5 ways of Comunication (radio, TV, Internet, Facebook, and news papers) to make people feel they are COOL, Part of the elite crowd but yet independent an attack on the 4 senses visual, sound, taste and smell (think of the hamburgers you see in the newspaper covered in cheese, home made pickles and burger sauce with “organic” beef pattie….

    This is a long comment! I apologies but thank you Charlie Lehmann for the form to speak on!

    End the lock out and let’s take back our rights! I would say more (about the disgusting addiction Australia has to gambling) but this is only a comment and not a place for my thoughts

    Peace and again thank you…..


  3. Couldnt agree more Charlie.! Right from the go get, the introduction of lockout, the agenda has been a knarled spikey tail of skewed statistics, targeting certain trading districts, traders and their customers. Under handed political wrangling of our legislative system, fueled by the need to feather the nest of a minor few, with a huge pile of money on the table. Albeit the head chicken at the time was soon cast out with proven accusations of receiving gifts. Im fairly sure it wasnt a bottle of rather tasty red plonk. But we’ll never know the truth.?? ! Hes off the landscape while handing the torch to another cap in hand wannabe public good guy using God as his messenger. Lockout is the tip of the iceberg. Power , money, greed , control is the foundation being constructed. It sure as hell isn’t going to be isolated to the corner of the room where peoples choice to drink alcohol , not to drink alcohol , when to drink alcohol, or what time of the day or night you choose to drink it. Its not entirely aimed at those of us with 100,s of 1000’s $$$$ invested in the business of bars. Its aimed firmly at the heads of everyone in this country that believe their vote counts because we are, after all, a democracy. Yeah right! That horse bolted! Got to nip off now and pay the fine I got for walking across the road when no cars were coming as there was apparently a pedestrian strip 100 meters up the road where i didn’t want to go. Pay it , Like fuck I am!


  4. Hi mate,
    Could it not also be argued you have a vested interest in disparaging the laws as you have a bar to run which has obviously suffered duebto lock out laws?
    The rate of violence related trauma admissions to hospitals has declined by approx 20% according to stats by the hospital. Are they also a pawn of the govt?
    Certainly it is interesting about profit increase at Star but how much of that increase was international gaming patronage v alcohol sales? The Stars financial report should have that information.


  5. The average rate of assaults at Star for Feb-Sept 2014 did increase from 3.5 to 6.3 (+2.8). But this was balanced by a 41.5 assault decrease for XK and CBD entertainment precincts. This would suggest either Star has great security staff or the was no significant inlux of troublesome patrons to the area.


  6. Youre a dickhead buddy, publicans that paid millions for their licenced establishments now have to compete with every Tom, Dick and Harry wine bar owner that due to a change in licencing laws open their “wine bar” next door paying $500 for a liquor licence.

    Who compensates the poor publican for loss of trade? Bottleshop now forced to close at 10pm and foot traffic down 80% due to lock out laws and a “wine bar” on every corner!

    Wake up to reality champ!


  7. Everything is for sale in this town.And the truth is the most costly item on sale.Wake up Sydney and N.S.W and see how one sided this developer /lend lease owned Beard government is .Its about real estate as much as it is about poker machines and casinos.It stinks .


  8. Everything is for sale in this town .And the truth is the most costly.Wake up Sydney N.S.W .This Baird government is owned by Lend Lease .Its as much about real estate these lock out laws as it is about casino’s and poker machines.


  9. Before the Lock-out laws, there were very FEW POLICE patrolling in Kings Cross.
    That’s why we had so many assaults and deaths

    After the Lock-out laws were introduced Kings Cross had a 1000% INCREASE IN POLICE NUMBERS. That’s why the assault rate dropped so dramatically.

    The first month or so of the lock-out laws if you walked on Bayswater Road and appeared to be having ‘too good time’ you were told to leave or be arrested for being intoxicated


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