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NSW Government “24-hour economy” plan unveiled

The NSW Government has unveiled a new plan to unlock Sydney's night time potential. Photo: Allison Hore


The NSW Government has unveiled a new plan to turn Sydney into a 24-hour economy. 

The strategy which was developed in cooperation with key industry bodies and local councils lays down key initiatives with the aim of creating a “vibrant, diverse, inclusive and safe 24-hour economy in Sydney”. 

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says the strategy will help grow jobs and investment in the city’s hospitality, tourism, retail and arts sectors.

“Sydney-siders deserve a global city that’s thriving 24-hours a day, and the world wants a 24-hour Sydney,” he said.

“COVID-19 has hit the tourism, hospitality and the arts sectors hard. This Strategy sets out a pathway to activate home-grown events that create safe opportunities for people to enjoy across Greater Sydney.” 

To revitalise the arts and entertainment sector in 2019 the NSW government promised a $1 million investment to support new contemporary music and increase participation in live music events as well as $500,000 across seven Sydney precincts.

But the focus of the new strategy is not just on injecting money into traditional night-time sectors, but also extending Sydney’s daytime economy into the night. With more and more Sydney-siders taking on work outside of the standard 9 to 5 office hours, the NSW government says the strategy will “give businesses and consumers, councils and community groups an opportunity to keep the lights on beyond the traditional business day”.

This diversification of night-time activities is one of the key strategies of the plan, and it’s not just businesses wanting to see this change. In a survey of 1,500 Sydneysiders, 78 percent of respondents said that they would like more night time activities that didn’t center around alcohol and 83 per cent said they would prefer more intimate settings for night time socialisation.  

Reviewing noise regulations for live music venues, simplifying requirements for pop ups and cultural events and making them more affordable, relaxing of restrictions on food trucks and extending opening hours of cultural venues are just some of the pathways to diversifying nightlife the strategy lays out.

Extending the hours of public transport as well as increasing safety for night-time commuters has also been earmarked as one of the practical initiatives of the strategy.

Sydney’s night time economy took a serious blow with the Liberal government’s introduction of the controversial lockout laws in 2014. While data shows the laws were effective in reducing alcohol-related violence in the CBD, a 40 percent drop in pedestrian foot traffic in Kings Cross forced many businesses to shutter for good. In January of this year the lockout laws were repealed, but it wasn’t long before entertainment venues were dealt another blow in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW’s Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the plan will not only help reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife but will also stimulate jobs and economic growth in the CBD in the wake of COVID-19.

“There is no denying Sydney is one of the best cities in the world, but we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure the jewel in our crown continues to shine both day and night,” Mr. Perrottet said.

Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, has welcomed the strategy, saying that it is a “a clear pathway to creating a 24 hour economy” in the city.

“This well considered and wide-ranging Strategy will lead to much needed growth in the city’s economy and jobs across the arts and entertainment, logistics and transport, retail, tourism and professional services sectors,” she said.

According to data from Deloitte, in 2017 Greater Sydney’s night time economy was worth $27.2 billion and supported 234,000 jobs. 

The plan will be phased in over several years and the government will appoint a 24-hour Economy “Coordinator General” to oversee its implementation. The Coordinate General will act as a liaison between key stakeholders, including business owners, and the government.

The full plan can be read on the state government’s Global NSW website.

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