The NSW Government has said that the 24-hour economy laws passed earlier this month will effectively kickstart and re-energise Sydney’s night-time economy, reviving an industry brought to its knees by the events of 2020.
The laws passed NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council on Thursday, 12 November and come into play on December 1.
Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello said the new laws will create a vibrant and safe 24-hour economy, with risk-based liquor laws that support business.
“The new laws will boost the state’s night-time economy by removing outdated laws, simplifying licensing processes and creating a new incentives and sanctions system that rewards licence holders with a clear record,” Mr Dominello said.
“The economy doesn’t go to sleep after dark and we need laws that cater for a 21st century economy. The hospitality sector has been brought to its knees this year and the new laws will give the sector greater certainty and flexibility.”
Industry has welcomed the key changes contained in the Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020 which will not only make trading easier for venues but strip away convoluted red tape, making day to day operations more straightforward.
John Green, Director Police and Research, at AHA NSW said:
“The key component of the legislation is the amalgamation of the three regulatory schemes (Three Strikes, Violent Venues and Minors Sanctions) into a simpler, fairer single demerits system. This is something AHA NSW has been advocating for some time and is particularly welcomed.
“The legislation also makes a range of changes regarding live music including the removal of many music-related liquor licence conditions and allowing local government to remove those conditions where they are mirrored in Development Consents.
“Pushing the legislation through before the busy summer period will allow venues to make the most of the changes as we hopefully see further relaxation on Covid restrictions on venues.”
NTIA Chair Michael Rodrigues (pictured below with Kenny Graham, Board Member NTIA & Owner Mary’s Group) also sees the timing of the 24-hour economy laws as crucial as summer arrives, restrictions are increasingly relaxed and the cessation of JobKeeper and bank relief approach:
“There are many challenges facing the going out sector. Some are pandemic related such as capacity restrictions, and the decentralisation of audience from urban centres as a result of working from home.
“Others remain ongoing, for example improving the narrative around Sydney’s nightlife and restoring consumer confidence in going out more broadly. And let’s not forget the 30 March end of JobKeeper and bank relief.
“Both industry and government are keen to build momentum ahead of that date, while maintaining public health, so that as many venues are trading and employing as many people as possible by that time.”
While industry continues to drill down into the detail of the amendments, the top level changes include:
- a new incentives and sanctions system with ongoing fee discounts for licensed venues that maintain a clear record
- removal of outdated live music restrictions
- reducing red tape by aligning liquor licensing and planning processes
- enhancing same day alcohol delivery regulations.
Additionally, small bars are also now able to offer more family-friendly services to customers, allowing supervised access to minors in certain circumstances. Minors were already permitted in pubs under supervision but extending the option to small bars means that minors are welcome in an increasing number of bar / restaurants located in suburbs and regional centres.
It is a logical and important step in supporting small bar operators. Rodrigues said: “What we have learnt through the pandemic is that flexibility of trade is key to survival for many businesses… These are offerings that can and should be enjoyed by families if that is an audience that the owner wishes to attract.”
“This has been a long journey, but I can’t emphasise how much a big deal these reforms will make to Sydney’s nightlife. It strips away great swathes of regulation, some bewildering, some comical, but all unhelpful to venue operators,” said Rodrigues.
Looking ahead, Rodrigues emphasised that the issue is complex and there is still a way to go.
“The new legislation marks the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end: we still have a lot to do to support a sector reeling from a year of bushfires, pandemic and recession.”