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Revive Sydney’s nightlife, major businesses plead with NSW Premier

Sydney's skyline at night. Businesses are urging the NSW Government for more direction in setting policy around reviving Sydney's night life. (Source: Getty)

More than thirty major businesses have penned an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling her to revive Sydney’s nightlife.

Sydney Airport, Airbnb, the International Convention Centre (ICC) as well as Merivale and PwC are among the list of businesses that have signed the letter by the Committee for Sydney that calls for better regulation that supports rather than stifles Sydney’s night-time economy.

As a result of the city’s lockout laws, implemented in 2014, Sydney is losing out on up to $16 billion due to an underperforming night-time economy, according to estimates from Deloitte.

This underperformance makes it harder to recruit talented workers and encourage tourists to visit, the businesses warn in the letter.

“For the future prosperity of our city, we need to do better.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks during Question Time in Sydney, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Debate about Sydney’s controversial lockout laws has reignited thanks to a NSW joint select committee inquiry into the city’s night time economy.

Inquiry hearings kick off in Sydney’s Parliamentary House today, Monday 5 August.

The Committee for Sydney welcomed the inquiry as an opportunity to work towards a “positive vision for a diverse and vibrant night-time economy in Sydney and NSW”.

“It has the potential to identify better regulation that supports rather than stifle enterprise; to create more constructive engagement between the private sector and state and local government and to revitalise precincts across the city at night,” the letter said.

“Sydney has the potential to become one of the great cities in the world for diverse and vibrant night life.”

The city’s future competitiveness and economic advantage would get a major boost “by getting this right”.

City of Sydney council lord mayor Clover Moore, who gave evidence at the NSW parliamentary inquiry hearing today, said she was optimistic the inquiry would inject life back into Sydney’s nightlife.

"There's an understanding that the lockout laws – whilst a circuit-breaker at the time – has taken the oxygen out of Sydney's night-time economy," Moore told reporters on Monday.

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore speaks at New Year's Eve celebrations at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Tuesday, December 4, 2018. (AAP Image/Peter Rae)

City of Sydney’s submission to the inquiry indicated drink businesses, late trading restaurants and the live music and performance sector had all taken a hit.

"There is a real opportunity now to put Sydney back on the map in terms of the creative life of our city, the diversity in our city and the after-dark life of our city," she added.

Lockout laws draw support and opposition alike

In nearly 800 submissions to the inquiry, several businesses and organisations came forward about both the positive and negative impacts of the policy, with local council City of Sydney revealing the policy has repelled 3 million visitors across 5 years, seen over 2,000 jobs lost, and $1.4 billion in profit down the drain.

However, health and medical associations, such as St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians are predominantly in favour of the laws, arguing that the lockout laws have curbed alcohol-fuelled violence.

Committee for Sydney director of advocacy James Hulme said that the “voice of businesses and major employers” had to be heard in the debate about Sydney’s night time economy.

“Offering a diverse night time is crucial to attracting investment and talent in Sydney and maintaining our tourism sector," Hulme said as reported in SMH.

“Great global cities have a great night-time offer and Sydney could do more to enhance its reputation as one of the best cities in the world for night life.

"We urge the Premier to grasp the opportunity to set out a clear vision for a renaissance in Sydney’s night time economy.”

The committee will present its report to NSW Parliament by 30 September.

Who has signed the letter?

The 31 signatories to the letter include:

  • Accor

  • Aecom

  • Airbnb

  • Arup

  • Arcadis

  • Boyden

  • Cultural Capital

  • Dexus

  • Ethos Urban

  • Five at Heart

  • Go Get

  • Grimshaw Architects

  • Hoyne

  • International Convention Centre Sydney

  • ISPT

  • Kinesis

  • Merivale

  • Night Time Industries Association

  • Outdoor Media Association

  • PwC

  • Roberts Day

  • Scentre Group

  • Solotel

  • Stone & Chalk

  • Sydney Airport

  • Sydney Fish Market

  • Time Out

  • Vicinity Centres

  • Urbis

  • Western Sydney Business Chamber

  • WT Partnership

–with AAP

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