Mike Baird broke Sydney. Thanks to Sydney’s Lockout Laws, night life hot spots are turning into ghost towns.  I believe drinks like craft beer and cider can save the day.

Let’s go back to the start. Sydney was the envy of the world. Yes, I’m biased I live here. Sydney has great weather, endless beaches and a harbor that has to be seen to be believed. Sydney-siders work hard so they can play harder.  The city is the after work playground. Oxford street is the home of the famous Mardi Gras. Then there’s King’s Cross. King’s Cross has long been the place to party. It’s close to the naval dock so it was the first port of call for sailors on shore leave. Today it’s the first place many backpackers hit when they arrive in Sydney.

Unfortunately, the media and the politicians would have you believe these parts of town are also hot-spots for alcohol fueled violence.  Sydney’s Lockout laws mean that you can’t enter a venue after 1:30am and last drinks are at 3am.

The final straw, for me at least, happened over the weekend when police questioned the manager of an inner city wine bar for promoting “unsavoury behaviour” because he had a chalk board listing the types of wine they sold by the glass.  Nobody goes to a wine bar with the express purpose of drinking to get drunk.

Over the last few days, State Premier, Mike Baird has been copping it left, right and centre for these laws. It’s become clear he’s not interested in fixing these laws. So is there another way we can bring Sydney back to life?

Recently I was in The Cross for a mate’s bucks. We tried a sports bar, the perfect place for nice craft beer or dry cider. We were stuck with a boring mass market lager. Next we tried a club. $20 to get in the door. The place wasn’t busy; we knew they were needing the business so we all haggled at the door. The $20 got us entry and a free drink. The drink was a cinnamon whiskey and yes it was the worst thing I’ve every drunk. By this stage we were all wanting something decent. Maybe an Old Fashioned cocktail or a nice G&T. No dice, our choices where boring lager or a vodka and sugar drink. On top of that, the DJ was terrible, OK he wasn’t playing my style of music but his skills were lacking with less flow than a jar of cold honey.

No wonder people aren’t going to the clubs. Overpriced entry, boring drinks and bad music. In the past you’d pay your entry fee, go in have 1 drink realise it wasn’t happening there and try somewhere else. Rise and repeat. Eventually, after a few venues and a few bad drinks you would settle into a club to dance the night away. Low on cash you would buy anything, which is lucky because the choices were lacking. You can see why people get angry, it’s a ridiculous system. Anger with a skin full of cheaply made vodka and lager is a bad mix.

Sydney’s Lockout Laws need to be scrapped. It’s madness that selling wine by the glass can warrant a visit by the police. If you slow your drinking down to savour the taste you’re going to consume a lower total volume. Reducing the adverse health and social effects.

The State Government should be encouraging specialty bars. New York has seen a growth in breweries with tasting rooms. These places are half way between a brewery and a cafe. People go there to enjoy a flight (a paddle as we call them here, normally 6 small sample glasses of different beers) and enjoy the company of friends. These patrons are not wanting get into a drunken punch up that would be disrespectful to the craftsmen making the beer. Similar establishments have opened specializing in spirits, wines and of course ciders. Local laws have created this vibrant industry and a safe drinking culture. Sydney has the expert brewers and we have the fans, we just need the laws to bring them together.

How to Fix Sydney’s Lockout Laws

  1. Scrap the laws preventing people from entering a venue late at night. If a punter thinks a venue is crap they will be able to find a better place. The bad places will die out and the cream will rise to the top.
  2. Ban entry fees on venues. If an establishment can’t be profitable without an entry fee then they need to improve their product. Offer more choice of drinks and better music.
  3. Encourage smaller venues that favor quality over quantity, like New York’s brewpubs and brewery tap rooms or Melbourne’s wine bars. This will have a knock on effect of creating local jobs in making the local drinks.

Mike Baird may never read this. Maybe if its shared enough he will. Maybe you have another idea on how we can fix the situation. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. opinion

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