The “night-time economy” in NSW is to be dramatically redrawn, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian expected to fully repeal lockout laws across most of Sydney as she faces a fresh battle over her safety crackdown on music festivals.  Lockout laws and after-hours drink restrictions would be repealed in the Sydney CBD, but left in place in inner-city Kings Cross, under the recommendations of a cross-party committee released this week.  But the Premier warned that the lives of thousands of young partygoers would be put at risk this summer after the NSW upper house overturned safety measures imposed on music festivals.

One MP said it would be up to the “licensing sergeant” in the CBD to police troublesome premises but no longer would there be blanket closing times of 3am and lockouts imposed at 1.30am.  The government regulation on music festivals, introduced after several drug-related deaths last summer, required 14 festivals to adhere to a strict licensing regime that included bearing the cost of increased security and medical services.  “I am horrified by the alliance of Labor, the Shooters and the Greens who voted together to disallow the regulation governing the music festivals by 21 votes to 18” Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier warned that the move had put “thousands of lives at risk”.  “This action will result in an immediate end to the regulations, putting thousands of lives at risk as we come into the summer music festival season,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.  “It is utterly reckless to throw out these regulations without having anything in their place as summer approaches.  “We do not want to see a repeat of what happened last summer.

“But this irresponsible action means police, paramedics, nurses and doctors will be left to pick up the pieces.”  Labor night-time economy spokesman John Graham said the opposition moved the disallowance because the licensing system was too ad hoc on certain festivals and a proper state-wide policy needed to be developed.  Only 14 festivals determined to be “high risk” were required to obtain the licence.  Each of these 14 festivals had either had a serious drug related illness or death in the past three years, or had been assessed, on the expert advice from NSW Health and NSW police, that there might be a significant risk of that occurring.

The regulations required that the organisers establish a safety management plan in consultation with the NSW Police Force and NSW Health. A statement from Ms Berejiklian’s office said:  “The NSW government will now consider options and consult with the music industry, the health sector and NSW police on what else can be done to ensure that young people stay safe over the summer period.”   Labor has alls on the music festival industry and the government to work together to implement updated rules in time for the upcoming summer festival season,” he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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