Joint Select Committee on Sydney's Night Time Economy

(Committee Report, 23 October 2019, Legislative Assembly)

As Deputy Chair: I welcome the committee's final report and its recommendations that provide the Government with a pathway for a safe and vibrant nightlife for Sydney. I pay special thanks to the Hon. Natalie Ward, the committee chair, for her collaborative leadership through the process. She was able to take a politically contentious issue and deliver a largely consensus outcome. The committee staff excelled throughout, despite a tight time line and, along with all members of the committee, ensured as many voices as possible were heard throughout the process.

It was a win-win. The timeframe was important as it is vital that the Government acts with appropriate urgency to ensure we no longer miss out on the jobs, investments and returns for small business from our night-time economy. It is estimated that the State is missing out on literally billions of dollars each year. It is my hope that by Mardi Gras 2020 our night-time economy will once again be flourishing, fun and safe. I thank everyone who made a submission and engaged with the inquiry to ensure that our recommendations were informed by health professionals, local government, academics, musicians, industry stakeholders and members of the wider community. I pay tribute to those who have long been campaigning for the recommendations for proposed government action, including Keep Sydney Open, The Greens, Labor Loves Live Music and the Young Liberals. Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully have been at the forefront of the thought leadership to return a safe a and vibrant nightlife to Sydney and to ensure we have the diversity that our night-time economy needs to flourish.

Yes, because good things can happen after 1.30 a.m. I met my husband on the dance floor in a gay bar on Oxford Street after 1.30 a.m. With the repeal of the lockouts, I hope others in Sydney will be able to be so lucky. But we need to make sure that we do not see a return to the situation we had in 2014, with a saturation of vertical drinking establishments co-located within small areas, with extended trading licences and no transport home. The committee made key recommendations about planning and licensing controls, and transport, and we commend those to the Government to act on. With reference to the special treatment of Kings Cross, I support the repeal of the lockouts in Kings Cross but we need to make sure that we get the balance right between density of venues and diversity of offerings.

The report recommends the City of Sydney and New South Wales Government work towards this goal over the next 12 months. Of course, our night-time economy needs more than just legislative change. We need coordination of agencies and investment from the Government. It is great to see this is already happening. The New South Wales Government invested $192,000 in Sydney's bid for WorldPride 2023 and, having just returned from Athens as part of the bid team, I am proud to inform the House that Sydney won in a definitive victory against Montreal and Houston. Deloitte estimates that this event will bring more than one million visitors and over $600 million in spending to Sydney. As someone who has attended WorldPrides in Madrid and New York, I am sure we can expect those figures to be even higher. This shows the benefits that come from Government investment. A safe and vibrant night-time economy is critical to the reputation of any global city. In adopting the committee's recommendations, Sydney will be well on its way to getting our groove back. I commend the report to the House.