NSW Government and Opposition reveal plans to rejuvenate the state’s nightlife

25 January, 2019 by Tam Allenby

Both NSW Labor and the NSW Government released their respective plans to rejuvenate the state’s nightlife this week, as the state election in March draws ever closer.

On Wednesday (23 January), NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley unveiled the party’s live music venues policy, which includes a pledge of $1.2m to assist live music venues with soundproofing and the rollout of a new licensing scheme if Labor is elected on March 23.

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Labor’s policy includes the creation of a new class of liquor licence for live music venues, a streamlining of the process for obtaining planning and liquor approvals, and a new ‘one-stop shop’ for noise complaints – which are currently handled by seven different bodies including NSW Police, Liquor & Gaming NSW, and local councils.

“These measures are good for venues, good for residents,” said Mr Daley. “They should provide practical help for venues, but make government processes more open for residents.”

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, who attended the ALP live music launch at the Oxford Art Factory on Wednesday, said:“Hotels across NSW support 75,000 live music acts each year – we support all measures that encourage live music and a vibrant Sydney and NSW nightlife.

“The ‘Right to play’ initiative is a great starting point – there needs to be an expectation music venues will actually have live music. People shouldn’t be able to think they can move next door to a live music venue that’s been there for years and then say “let’s shut it down” during reasonable hours.”

Following Labor’s proposal, the NSW Government also announced a $1.5 million boost to the Sydney and NSW night-time economy, as well as a pledge to cut “red tape”.

Announced by Minister for Racing Paul Toole and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin at the Glenmore on Thursday (24 January), the funds will be split between a one-off $500,000 grants program for street festivals and events in seven key precincts, and a $1 million ‘Music NOW’ fund to support live music across the state.

A new type of pop-up liquor licence will also be trialled in the seven precincts – Darlinghurst, Haymarket and George Street, Parramatta, Liverpool, Newtown, Opera House to Walsh Bay, and Pyrmont – and an “expert advisory panel” will be established to advise Government of ways to integrate liquor and planning approvals.

According to the Government, the panel will look at opportunities to remove duplication, reduce red tape and make it easier to start and grow licensed businesses in NSW. Experts will also look at ways to encourage more roof top bars across Sydney.

“Sydney has some great roof-top bars, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Let’s take full advantage of the best cityscape and outlook in the world – if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” Mr Toole said.

Mr Toole also said a three-month blitz on outdated licence conditions, such as limitations on types of music that can be performed at a venue, is currently underway.

“There might be conditions remaining on some licences that no longer serve a purpose, so affected venues have the opportunity to have them removed, free of charge,” Mr Toole said.

“Sydney is one of the great world cities and has a long tradition of music and entertainment that’s to be celebrated.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has welcomed the announcements, with Chair Michael Rodrigues, telling TheShout: “The NTIA welcomes the announcement by both the Government and Opposition of measures to improve Sydney’s night time economy.

“It is recognition that there is a major problem and government needs to get cracking on fixing it. The funding and other measures are welcome but there is a long way to go. We got into this mess over many years and it will take a while to fix it.”

The two announcements follow the results of a NSW parliamentary inquiry released last November, which described the live music scene in the state as a ‘crisis’ and urged the lifting of unnecessary restrictions on venues.