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Lock Out Laws


Lock Out Laws


Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie were killed in random, unprovoked acts of alcohol-related violence. The two deaths were a few years apart and caused significant media and public outcry. The other 3 alcohol-related deaths between 2012-2014 received less media attention. 


In response, the Government put in place the following restrictions: 

  • 1:30 am lockouts at clubs, hotels etc. in Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and Kings Cross. 
  • Ceasing alcohol service in venues at 3am. 
  • Freezing new liquor licences in Sydney CBD and Kings Cross. 
  • Banning takeaway alcohol sales after 10:00pm across New South Wales. 
  • Extending temporary and long-term banning orders, intended to exclude known criminals from most licensed establishments in Kings Cross and Sydney CBD.


Measuring Lock Law Effectiveness


The NSW Bureau Of Crime Statistics And Research (BOSCAR) was in charge of collating and analysing the amount of assaults across Sydney. BOSCAR is a government funded body that collates crime statistics and conducts research which informs the NSW government on their decision making. 


They released a report after the 6 years of lockouts demonstrating assaults were down 13% in the CBD and 53% in Kings Cross. This was used by the NSW government as justification of the lockouts for the 6 year period. However, Sydney University reanalysed the data soon after it was published and found very different results. 


In their report, Sydney Uni highlighted that BOSCAR had wrongly duplicated almost 2000 incidents. They found BOSCAR wrongly attributed assaults in Darlinghurst, Wooloomooloo and Potts Point to the CBD, as well as Kings Cross. 


After removing the duplicates, it was found that the assaults in the CBD had gone down only 4% between 2015-2019, when lock out laws were in effect. The data from King Cross is yet to be finalised because BOSCAR won’t share the data required to Sydney University.. Sydney University wrote in their opinion piece, “we have yet to receive the additional data we requested from BOCSAR to help us locate exactly where these crimes occurred”. Sydney University’s report acknowledged the potential conflict of giving a government body the role of analysing crime statistics, which informs legislation, rather than an independent party. 


BOSCAR has since changed their data online and cited Sydney University to reflect the correct figures in CBD. 


This is important, because BOSCAR’s data is used to inform legislation. In 2017, The Callinan Report, by Ian Callinan, a former High Court Judge, used these earlier figures to promote the maintenance of the laws. 


The Parliamentary Committee on Sydney’s Night Time Economy released a report in 2019, with different figures to BOSCAR and Sydney University. In the 5-6 years of the lock out laws total assaults Sydney wide had decreased by 395 people. This was because the violence was just pushed into other areas. Surry Hills, Newtown, Double Bay, Bondi and Coogee all had an increased number of cases of alcohol related violence. The areas surrounding the CBD and Kings Cross increased by 30% and areas further away increased by 18%. 

This equates to one less assault every weekend.  Deloitte also estimated that the revenue lost is estimated to be $16 Billion, which is roughly $307.7 million every weekend. 

The lock out laws were introduced to curb alcohol fuelled violence in Kings Cross. The NSW Government had positive intentions and there isn’t anyone that doesn’t support the idea of reducing violence. Based on the current state of Kings Cross, they worked… Violence in Kings Cross has dramatically reduced, however it came at the cost of completely decimating nightlife in the area. 

However, the data suggests that the violence just moved into other areas of Sydney and the alcohol related violence across Sydney didn’t reduce at all. It’s disappointing that the NSW Government let them go on for so long. We now live in a city that is often disregarded when it comes to nightlife and the government is now trying to recoup the reputation and $16 Billion of estimated losses. 

It's interesting that there was such contention over reporting the simple statistics associated with the assault numbers in Sydney. If you are interested in hearing more about this and the topic, we unpack everything in much greater detail on our podcast. 

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