BY CHARLOTTE GRIEVE
On Sunday October 9, Sydneysiders of all ages gathered in Belmore Park with signs such as “Not My Baird Time” and “Make Sydney Late Again.”
The protest was the second of its kind attracting up to 10,000 people who marched along Oxford Street protesting the CBD lock out laws and associated effects.
Keep Sydney Open campaign manager, Tyson Koh, described the lead up to the protest as “a little more urgent and angry” in the wake of the Callinan Review and in the context of current government policy formation, scheduled to be released by the end of the year.
Both ends of the protest were met with a showcase of Sydney DJs and bands who have thrown their support behind the movement.
One protester told City Hub of her Kings Cross experience over the recent long weekend.
“We went to the Cross and everything was empty. We caught a cab from the Rocks and couldn’t get in anywhere because everything was shut. Nothing was open, it was so disappointing,” said Alice Trott, a Sydney resident.
The Keep Sydney Open campaign has gained significant traction both locally and internationally.
“We’ve had coverage on the BBC, CNN, Huffington Post. I went to a conference in Amsterdam earlier this year and everyone was congratulating our work,” Mr Koh told City Hub.
The movement has an online following of over 50,000; something Mr Koh believes could pose a substantial threat to a secure voting base.
“If the government is seen to be giving us the cold shoulder, it’s something that won’t serve them well,” Mr Koh told City Hub.
While the Keep Sydney Open campaign continues to grow, they have also conducted an independent review of the effects resulting from the laws.
The report, “A Sobering Assessment of the Data,” found that alcohol-fuelled violence has intensified in the very areas the laws were designed to stem.
The report states that those who do visit Kings Cross during the evening are 20 per cent more likely to be victims of an alcohol-fuelled assault. This figure is based on a balancing effect between reported incidents and patronage levels.
“An estimated fall of 28 per cent in alcohol-fuelled assaults was smaller than the 40 per cent fall in patronage.”
What were initially designed as a “circuit breaker” of violence throughout the district is having a ripple effect throughout the city. Non-domestic assaults are higher across all of Sydney’s entertainment precincts outside, increasing by up to 30 per cent in Newtown, Bondi, Coogee and Double Bay, according to the report.
In Pyrmont, alcohol-fuelled violence is over 120 per cent higher than before the lock outs were in place, that is allegedly driven by assaults in and around the Star Casino.
While the Callinan review recognises the reduction of venue choice, the “greatly reduced” pedestrian traffic, loss of employment, a decrease in measured vibrancy and damage to the night time economy, the report suggests a relaxation of the lock out laws by a mere half an hour and bottle shop laws by an hour.
Premier Mike Baird’s most recent decision to revoke his ban on greyhound racing has given hope to those seeking reform of the lock out laws.
KSO has made formal submissions of alternate solutions to the laws such as an anti-violence educational campaign, a 24 hour public transport system as well as the appointment of a Night Mayor.
“We are about implementing innovative solutions to keep Sydney safe and vibrant,” said Mr Koh.
If you want your very own Make Sydney Late Again hat, click here.