Effect on Newtown from lockout laws

Lily Gobran

As Kings Cross and the CBD have been required to turn there lights off. Late night party goers are now moving the party to suburbs in the Inner city such as Newtown, that have not yet been effected with the lockout and last drink laws, that were introduced in early 2014 by the State Government.

The laws were introduced with the objective to reduce alcohol fuelled-violence, the legislation requires 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks at bars, pubs and clubs in the CBD entertainment precinct.

According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research there has been a 45 percent reduction in non-domestic assaults in Kings Cross and 20.3 percent reduction in the CBD. A 25 percent reduction in alcohol-related and serious injuries at St Vincent’s Hospital and a 70 percent reduction in alcohol- related facial fractures requiring surgery.

“Since the Alcohol Laws came into place in NSW over two years ago, St Vincent’s has seen a reduction in over-all alcohol harms, particularly a dramatic reduction in serious injuries stemming from alcohol related assaults, which in relation to serious facial injuries, has involved an almost 70 per cent reduction,” David Faktor said, St Vincent’s Hospital.

While the lockout laws have shown to minimise alcohol fuelled violence in Kings Cross and CBD precinct, it has had a negative financial effect on bars, clubs and pubs that are forced to oblige by these laws. And certainly nobody wants the fuelled violence, however the businesses of Kings Cross and CBD are paying a very heavy price for this blanket approach.

“The lockout laws’ negative effects have extended well beyond late night music venues. Many supporting businesses such as take away food outlets, restaurants, and taxi drivers have taken a serious blow to their revenue since the laws came in to effect. Some have already closed, while many others are only just surviving. The pain is real, especially when these businesses can see that the laws have not actually addressed antisocial behavior, merely moving it to locations outside the lockout zone,” Maddy Dwyer from KeepSydneyOpen

Showing just how greatly the lockouts are deterring people from areas within the lockout zones, Newtown is experiencing large increases in foot traffic on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Although the nightlife activity in Newton has picked which is great for business owners. The number of people arriving at Newtown Station on a Friday or Saturday night has increased by 26 per cent since the lockout laws came in according to the Transport NSW figures. The crime rate has also increased to. This has led to an 18 per cent increase in violent alcohol related crimes in the area since the law was introduced.

“Due to the lockout laws Newtown is definitely seeing an increase in business.  People are not only heading to the area after the lock out in the CBD but now tending to spend their whole evening in Newtown,” Sonja Jones said, Moshpit Bar Newtown.

“This has been good for businesses such as restaurants, small bars and pubs.  Although it has also brought about some negatives, violence, and anti-social behavior,”

“The spike in these negatives has been such that all pubs along King St now have one or more security guards, and RSA Marshalls to keep the customers in check.  Security guards at the doors of Newtown hotels was a rare sight only a few years ago,”

“Newtown although never crime free was a relatively safe suburb since the 90’s.  There has been a spike in random attacks and anti-social behavior.  There are now often Police and sniffer dogs at the train station and intoxicated people being unruly.  Slow level crime such as shouting, jumping into traffic and kicking over rubbish bins is a common sight now.” she said.

Fears that Newtown is becoming increasingly dangerous have been emphasized after the assault of transgendered resident, Stephanie McCarthy. The residents of Newtown have seen a shift in attitude since the lockout laws have been put in place. The residents of Newtown have described the atmosphere shift to taken with it “a less friendly vibe”.

“I moved to Newtown about 2 months after the lockouts came into effect in Kings Cross, though I did notice quite a difference in King Street over the next year or so. As a resident I would say it’s less enjoyable to venture out into the night on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s more of a rough vibe to it that I saw in the cross,” Jules Hume resident of Newtown.

“So there’s a fairly negative effect I believe in terms of night safety, as Newtown used to be a safer night spot. And also somewhere the LGBTQIA community would be embraced and feel safe compared to places like the city. The atmosphere shift has taken with it a less friendly vibe I feel,”

“Though I hope the financial boost will help venues improve and assist in new businesses to open that are in the spirit of Newtown and not in a wider corporate gentrification.” He said.



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