WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING WITH THE LOCKOUT LAWS: CHARLIE LEHMANN

The conversation on lockouts as of late has waned. We recently saw Kings Cross Hotel aim to take a stand, which was unfortunately squashed within a week, but that’s about it. Sydney is now into its 4th year enduring these draconian laws with only little respite and the public conversation around it seems to have slowed. Our regular guest editor, Charlie Lehmann gives us an update on what’s been happening so far. 


In my last post on the subject I beseeched you, the people, to continue the discussion around the lockout laws so that we would press forward as a community and the issue at hand would not fade into the dismal background behind the noise of cat memes.

While in the industry, the conversation still pulses, in the mainstream it has unfortunately lost traction. Maybe it’s smashed avocado’s fault, maybe we’ve all been too busy #sendingnoodes. I’m not sure, but it’s time to pick it up again.

The lockout update

It’s not all bad news, our efforts to date have indeed made ‘some’ progress. SO what’s happened since we took our hot hand off the microphone?

Recently, some venues across the state and in particular within the “lockout zones” were “afforded” the luxurious opportunity of applying to stay open half an hour later (conditions apply of course). If you were to pursue these “opportunities” you needed to meet the desired standards of our state government which included, changing your DA to adhere to a 100 person capacity, changing your license to a small bar license and enforcing the laws already in place for drink service after 12am which includes no shots, no doubles, listing every damn cocktail you may make in your venue and if serving spirits adding a minimum of 30ml mixer to it.

Good luck if you wanted to celebrate anything with an expensive cognac or whiskey and being told you need to throw some Coca Cola or any other mixer into it.

Sure, beyond this bitter sweetness, it’s a step forward, but this has done little to curb restlessness amongst small business feeling the pinch of restrictions.

But, at a time where we think we have achieved something, albeit very small, we are not to give up on our right as functioning adults to have a beer at whatever time we see fit, to not have to hand over our ID’s for scanning (à la Queensland) and to see we have a thriving 24 hour economy that if threatened by undesirables that have caused the degradation of a once thriving nightlife that they, the individual, take responsibility of their actions and pays the price.

We believe the total accountability should not lie in the hands of the small bars that only strive to create an exceptional drinking culture and safe environment for those who want to venture out and enjoy their evenings.

Even with this ‘extension’ essentially we still have a government that distrusts us serving respectable adults respectable drinks but hey at least you’re in a bar after 12am so suck it up princess.

What small businesses are doing

All in all we’ve taken this extension and run with it but in doing so we’ve taken it with a grain of salt and unfortunately have let the ball drop on the conversation about lockouts.

Ramblin’ Rascal has taken the opportunity to stay open till 2am and will actively work with licensing, police and council to prove that it is good for the community, a vibrant night-time economy and drinking culture in general.  A three-month trial has been bantered around and we will prove that Sydney is very much a responsible adult and we can drink straight spirits if we want.

If it wasn’t bad enough being a Queenslander, they have now been slogged with piss poor draconian laws too, with the Labor party implementing strict rules for punters to get into their favourite venues by handing over their personal information for scanning. Sounds all very 1984 up in Queensland and some venues do have the same policy down here in New South Wales. No matter which way you view the scanning laws it still harks to oppressive rules and regulations from a distrusting government. A government intent on laying sole responsibility at the foot of small business and by treating the punter like a child and the perpetrators of any sought of violence like a naughty kid and not a malicious vagrant who should be whacked by the full force of the law.

Not only that but apparently there are more people on the street in venues since its implementation and one venue bemoaning the new state of being as a destruction of small business:

“I’m not gonna sugar coat this tonight was hard and for no other reason than the ID scanners. I have never been abused more tonight out of pure frustration since i ran a door with a dress code. The hospitality has been taken from our front door due to these laws and it is now our job to bring it back and figure out how to make these laws, which we won’t be able to change, fit with our ethos. As it stands what we are doing is not working,” Management Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall.

Who should be accountable

From this we can gather that small businesses are incurring the wrath of government and now also their guests that are attempting to get in. Which brings me to the final point of having responsibility lay directly at the feet of the degenerates that sometimes get past our observant professionalism and cause trouble in some of our venues.

For as long as humankind has existed and more pointedly as long as booze has flowed, some people just can’t handle themselves and make a complete ass of themselves, their friends and family and in extreme cases injure or cause death to other people around them. This is not a new thing that we as a society have had to deal with as much as the government and the teetotalers would like you to think.

It is time we have a proper discussion about personal responsibility and in particular Australia’s overt masculine drinking culture, which the majority of the time leads to the issues we see on the street. The government needs to turn the onus of responsibility on its head and hold perpetrators accountable without sabotaging small business. Essentially don’t be a Dick.

All in all we need to keep the conversation rolling and to work closely with the authorities to make our 24 hour economy work in the favour of everyone, not just casinos and property developers.


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. Please email brittany@meetthepeople.co 

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