Please Sydney, don’t close the conversation like you’ve closed our bars

Christo Herriot from Ramblin’ Rascal

Charlie Lehmann, owner of Ramblin’ Rascals, educated citizen of Sydney and general night-time enthusiast, has been a key driver in the conversation around Sydney’s Lockout Laws. In his last article for Meet The People he discussed casino corruption and political interest, in his latest article below he calls on everyone to keep the conversation going, be proactive and work together as a way to Keep Sydney Open.


As we astutely identified in the last article, “lockout” laws can suck a big fat one.

We agreed it is an issue exacerbated by an archaic government, that touts feeding your money into a machine never to be seen again held up by a bunch of geriatrics who unfortunately have a big say when voting and somehow make up a mysterious majority.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 3.53.50 pmAs we’ve collectively made more and more noise, so too have media outlets, piggy-backing the news all the way to the readership dollar line. On Sunday, we made it known to the state government that 15-20 thousand people would not capitulate. We will not cease, even when mainstream media has attempted to black us out with false, misleading statements and facts used to try and dissuade the average person that the “lockouts” are working and the “majority” demands them.

Whether media coverage has been positive or negative, it has kept the conversation going. The question we put forth is how do we keep up the momentum, how do we retain the wider public’s interest? How do we keep pushing for change when the 24/7 news cycle has the capability to spit us out of its never ending vortex, the significance of our issue only measured by yesterday’s by-line.

Be proactive not reactive

So we now understand what’s happening with the lockout laws in terms of the political system, let’s move on like the proactive citizens we are and do something crazy,  like discuss plans of action to provide more appropriate solutions. Here we’ll outline mainly our interaction with media and authorities and the driving force that is Keep Sydney Open.

We the people of Sydney have unshackled the typical characterisation that has been assigned to us, one of apathetic inertia. Sunday 17th, we marched as one; we chanted as one, we protested as one all in the name of repealing the draconian legislative laws that is the abhorred “Lockouts”.

It is from here that a plan of action has been formed, petitions signed and the “lockouts” submitted for review. As many know, it will take till August for the full review to be released and even then legislation will be slow to be enacted if at all  to change, repeal or completely rid these laws from our city.

Rationality not ridicule

As bar owners, operators, bartenders and punters, disseminating information amongst ourselves is something we are adept at, Facebook being our primary resource. However, our endeavors cannot stop at the borders of our digital backyard. We must strive to inform without ridicule the reasons why we need to rid our city of the “lockouts” to the average punter, the mums and dads whose children leave the house every weekend to revel in what we call a career, an art, a trade and a way of life.

A night time economy that benefits all

We must convince those, who actively purport that the “lockouts” are working and that we are just in an industry that is only concerned about the bottom dollar, that this is not our issue or cause. We must convince them that we care for the safety of each and every one of our guests, that we encourage a night time economy that benefits all, supporting culture, arts, entertainment and business. Engaging with guests, signing and sharing the same petitions and humanising ourselves outside the comfort of your bar is how we captivate such an audience.

It is with these measures that we change the external conversation around our industry. We change it to a positive conversation across the board. The groundswell of Keep Sydney Open has provided us a vehicle to direct our message to a broader base, the same proposed base that think these “lockouts” are working.  The positive discourse encouraged by Keep Sydney Open is a directive we must take as owners, operators and bartenders also. A positive rhetoric highlighting our engagement with community, arts, culture and entertainment through social media, mainstream media and everyday conversation is encouraged.

There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality

Many venues already engage in these facets of social discourse. Live venues such as Frankie’s, Middle bar and The Basement. Venues that support the arts such as This Must Be The Place and Earls who display local artists on their walls. Community engagement by righteous dudes at Mary’s hitting up festival after festival no matter how big, Splendour in the Grass, or small, Newtown Festival.

The positive impacts of our actions and words will slowly but surely disperse into the wider community. The more engagement with the community will also mean more engagement with the proper authorities. Distrust and discord cannot fester and a divide with an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality is an unnecessary distraction. This was an integral component of Keep Sydney Open’s message. That we are not against the Doctors, nurses, paramedics and police but are here to work with them on keeping our city safe and providing a better alternative to the “lockout” laws rather than the prohibition that has been inflicted on all law abiding citizens.

It is up to us to continue the conversation and shine a positive light on our endeavours. Sustain public discourse on the issue at hand and to deliver as much support in any which way to Keep Sydney Open so as to highlight the plight of the city’s future as an international beacon of culture, community arts and entertainment.

All imagery Daryl Kong

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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