Small Bar Amendments Welcomed

Legislative Council amendments to the Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020, in particular, the amendments relating to small bars, will have a significant positive impact on the Electorate of Newtown and in protecting and rebuilding our vibrant night-time culture.




"I speak briefly to the Legislative Council amendments to the Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020. I echo the sentiments expressed by members in this Chamber and the other place that while there has been a very long series of amendments and detailed negotiations that have extended for many hours, we have ended up with a much better and stronger bill. As a result, I think the amended bill recognises and reflects the needs and realities of the night-time economy and culture in our communities.

In particular, I highlight the exciting news that will resonate across the electorate of Newtown around the amendments regarding small bars. I acknowledge my Greens colleague in the other place Ms Cate Faehrmann for moving some of the amendments. Recently in this Chamber I acknowledged the struggle of small bars under 200 square metres complying with all of the various restrictions—as they have had to do. They have adapted well to those restrictions and have shown their resilience as well as their creativity, commitment and the support they have in the community. I speak to a couple of those amendments, one being The Greens amendment, which was successfully moved, that will see permanent changes to liquor laws so that small bars are able to maintain the current arrangement where they are able to sell house-made cocktails for purchase away from the premises. This arrangement will provide additional revenue for small bars, especially at a time when we see that the new normal of these restrictions will continue.

The second amendment to the bill I highlight is an absolute game changer in that it will allow small bars to be able to close to the general public for the purpose of a private function, such as a wedding or other activities. The other amendment I note allows small bars to be able to open on restricted trading days. I think all members would agree, and it is important for us to recognise, that in the same way that others are operating under restricted hours, that small bars should have the flexibility to be able to open in that space—particularly where people are often living in very small homes or other environments where they cannot socialise with their friends or others in an easy way. Small bars provide the ability for people to make a social connection.

It was disappointing to see that these liquor amendments were not able to deliver the final wiping from the books of the Kings Cross and CBD lockout laws. I note that The Greens tried to repeal the 2014 lockout laws, which are still in place in Kings Cross. Sadly, the Government and New South Wales Labor Opposition were not supportive of that amendment. We wanted to see a final end to those dark days for Kings Cross and the city when it came to the loss of such significant parts of our nightlife. Sadly that was not the case, but that is not to say there were not other good amendments to the bill. In particular, I think we will see that it is crucial as we move forward to give local governments the power to shift with some of the regulations and to recognise that we want vibrant night-time activities happening in our communities, whilst making sure that the community is consulted.

The small bar changes are very significant. The Greens have been contacted by many small bar owners. I will not name them to avoid claims of calling favourites among the many small bar owners who have been in touch with my electorate office. However, many of the small bars in Surry Hills, Redfern, Erskineville, Newtown and Enmore have been doing it really tough. I hope that the changes in this legislation will provide them with additional support and assurance that there are members of this House who are paying attention to them and not just to the big end of town with the big booze bars and their owners who make massive amounts of money out of the liquor industry and hotel association. This time the legislation is designed to support the small bars and people connected with our local communities who are doing whatever they can do to support live music, creativity and creative ways of entertaining while they comply with restrictive conditions and Health advice.

In conclusion I must say how sad it is that we are not able to welcome people into the public gallery at this stage. However, I pay credit and acknowledge the tens of thousands of people who came out in support of live music and keeping Sydney open. I remember being in this Chamber and having the privilege and honour of tabling a petition with 10,000 signatures calling for Sydney to be kept open and safe. I pay massive credit to all those people and the movement they created that has meant Parliament is now working in the interests of ensuring that we deliver for Sydney's night-time economy and our night-time culture in this State."

Sign up for updates