I speak in debate on the Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017. The bill legislates a number of reforms announced by the Government in relation to the review of the so-called lockout laws conducted by former High Court Justice Ian Callinan. As foreshadowed by the Minister for Lands and Forestry, and Minister for Racing this bill enacts those recommendations that were unable to be prescribed through regulation. The bill streamlines the three strikes disciplinary scheme targeting serial offenders, extends the licensing freeze for Kings Cross until June 2018 and streamlines other miscellaneous measures related to the administration of licensing fees and exemptions from ID scanner requirements. These measures are cautiously supported by the Opposition, recognising that they go some way to restore the balance and fairness in the New South Wales liquor regime.
In particular, shifting the onus of the Three Strikes Disciplinary Scheme from venues themselves to licensees will serve to hold negligent licensees more directly to account for their poor practices.
The existing scheme was introduced by former Premier Barry O'Farrell. It penalises venues for continual breaches of liquor laws, with three strikes resulting in escalating penalties, suspensions, cancellations and disqualifications of a licence. This bill unwinds the unintended consequences of former Premier O'Farrell's liquor legislation, which resulted in a heavy-handed three-strikes law that put unfair pressure on pub owners. These rules have negatively impacted on the mortgaging arrangements and financing of bricks and mortar hotel owners. This bill restores some balance to that system.
However, I am concerned that the report used to underpin this legislation has been kept secret by this Government. It is becoming increasingly typical of this Government to ram through legislation in this place without providing the Parliament, or the community at large, with all of the information. Secrecy remains a hallmark of this Government. It also demonstrates a lack of willingness to consult genuinely with the community. This bill fails to address the negative impacts of the lockout laws that have left our live music scene and creative industries on the brink. It is a concern that this Government has failed to address because it has failed to listen to the community that its legislation affects.
Every member in this place would agree that there is no place in a modern city for alcohol-fuelled violence. We would also agree that there should be harsh penalties for licensees who fail in their duty of care to patrons. Many in the community are sceptical about the value of the lockout laws. I acknowledge the passionate engagement of groups such as Keep Sydney Open, Reclaim the Streets, Labor for Live Music, and Labor for the Arts. However, it is clear that we must do more than use a blunt stick to address these issues. We must be smart and thoughtful about the ways in which we can assist and protect those caught up by the unintended consequences of this legislation.
The Australasian Performing Rights Association notes that there has been a 40 per cent decline in live music revenue at venues within the Sydney CBD lockout area. It also reports a 19 per cent decline in attendance at nightclubs and dance venues. Kings Cross Liquor Accord chief executive Douglas Grand notes that at least 16 licensed venues have shut down in Kings Cross since 2014. This has cost creative jobs and jobs in tourism and hospitality and in all those other industries that are contingent on the night-time economy.
Rather than ignore these impacts, the Opposition has a plan for live music in Sydney. We know that the best cities in the world are fun and safe. Given that, we have a seven-point plan that will revitalise our nightlife, support the kinds of industries that make our city a liveable and cosmopolitan place to live, and bring back the jobs in our creative and associated industries. Labor will also deliver all-night public transport on weekends, as happens in Melbourne. If Melbourne and other cities around the world can do it, why can't we? Labor will create a new class of liquor licence for live venues, acknowledging the evidence that live music in venues reduces the incidence of alcohol-fuelled violence.
The Opposition wants to support live music. The creation of a new licence will help cater for the special requirements of venues that have as their purpose and focus the provision of live entertainment. Labor will appoint a night time commissioner or a night mayor to better coordinate the venues, industries and stakeholders that keep our city turning at night. That will lead to a permanent night-time economy roundtable—which the Government has already introduced in a temporary form—to support live music and jobs in a night-time economy that aims to drive down crime. We know those issues are associated. The appointment of a night mayor has transformed cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich. It is something that should be happening in Sydney.
The Opposition will build a strategic plan for contemporary music, following the lead of other jurisdictions such as Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The plan will identify short-, medium- and long-term actions to support the growth of live music and other small live cultural events. This will encourage the establishment of live music in all areas of Sydney, not only in the CBD but also across the metropolitan area, including along Parramatta Road and in centres like Parramatta. Labor will review regulations and cut red tape that restricts the growth of creative industries. This will streamline the management of noise complaints around live music venues and restore some sanity to a system that allows for long-established live music venues to be shut down following a single noise complaint. That does not make sense, and we have lost too many venues to a system that is unbalanced and unfair.
The Opposition will support small bars, recognising that they play a vital role in the night-time economy. It will bring the definition of "small bars" into line with the definition used in Adelaide, which has a happening live music scene. The new definition will increase the capacity of those venues from 60 persons to 120 persons. The Opposition's plan is about recognising that live music and creative industries are at the heart of Sydney and that we need to be proactive about supporting them.
Much is happening at the local level. I acknowledge the work of Councillor Linda Scott at the City of Sydney, and Councillor Darcy Byrne, the former mayor of Leichhardt. Councillor Byrne has been developing a plan with the Sydney Fringe Festival on a policy to unlock unused and under-utilised spaces that could support small-scale creative and arts projects. As Sydney's residential sector booms, we are losing the invaluable small‑scale spaces used by artists and performers to experiment, to investigate and to hone their craft. This proposal will allow retail shopfronts, former factories, warehouses, cafes, and office blocks to be used as small‑scale performance venues. It follows successful trials along Parramatta Road during last year's Sydney Fringe Festival, and it promises to unlock creative spaces across the city.
I am also excited by the development of the Sydenham Station Creative Hub in my electorate, in the industrial zone between Sydenham Station and the busy Victoria Road in Marrickville. I continue to work hard alongside planning professionals to envision a space where Sydney can be loud. It is directly under the flight paths and alongside the mechanics and smash repair centres, timber yards, factories, and fish markets. The proposal is approaching the final stages of planning approval, and I look forward to working with local businesses, including Batch Brewery, the Factory Theatre, MakerSpace and others, to bring this dynamic proposal to life. My colleagues and I are in the business of listening to the community on the issues that matter. We understand that action must be taken to protect our creative industries, live music, and the communities and jobs they support. We understand that we can have a city that is both safe and fun.