NSW nightlife strangled by red tape

16 November, 2018 by tallenby

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has welcomed the release of a new report from a NSW parliamentary committee, which describes the live music scene in the state as a ‘crisis’ and urges the lifting of unnecessary restrictions on venues.

Some of the 60 recommendations from the Upper House parliamentary committee include lifting restrictions on live music venues across NSW, amending liquor legislation to remove “outdated” conditions for liquor licences, and increasing investment in contemporary music.

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The report, however, fell short of recommending a repeal or changes to the lockout laws specifically.

Michael Rodrigues, Chair of the NTIA, said that approximately 176 night time entertainment venues had closed since the lockout laws were introduced, with hundreds more under pressure.

“The decision by the NSW Government to temporarily waive fees to remove liquor license conditions is welcome but only a very small step towards fixing the problem,” he said.

“We call on the NSW Government to work with us to identify long term and real solutions to the crisis.

“Some key steps they could take today include making the night time a priority and putting a Minister in charge to drive the policy agenda and importantly bring the stakeholders together to find solutions.”

Rodrigues suggested another good place to start would be cutting back on the long list of rules and regulations it takes to open and operate a venue.

“This includes the power to regulate the type of music a venue can play, or the size of the band, or if you can have a mirror ball.

“Next, there are seven government agencies who regulate noise – let’s just have one that works with operators and the community to get the balance right and reduce the red tape.

“Government can boost investment to support venues and artists,” Rodrigues added. “We must improve the pathway for artists to go from start-up to success – NSW lags well behind Victoria when it comes to investment in the creative and night time economies.”

Rodrigues also said that while the principle behind the temporary waiver “makes sense”, the details of its actual execution need to be clarified.

“Venue owners will be reluctant to apply for their license conditions to be lifted if it leaves open the possibility more onerous conditions could be placed on them by Liquor and Gaming or the Police,” said Rodrigues. “The Minister should confirm that this will not happen under the proposed scheme.

“A number of the restrictive conditions affecting venues are contained in their Development Applications, not their liquor licenses. The announcement will give no relief to venues suffering under those provisions.

“The Government’s announcement is a temporary improvement that may assist a small number of venues. NSW needs wider permanent reform to remove the red tape many venues are operating under.”

Anyone wishing to join the NTIA and help make a difference to Sydney’s nightlife should head to the NTIA website or contact Michael Rodrigues via email – michael.rodrigues@ntia.org.au.