Referral and conduct of the inquiry
On 25 June 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into personal choice and
community impacts to the Senate Economics References Committee (committee) for
inquiry and report by 13 June 2016.
The committee's terms of reference require it to report on:
The economic and social impact of legislation, policies or
Commonwealth guidelines, with particular reference to:
- the sale and use of tobacco,
tobacco products, nicotine products, and e-cigarettes, including any impact on
the health, enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
- the sale and service of
alcohol, including any impact on crime and the health, enjoyment and finances
of drinkers and non-drinkers;
- the sale and use of
marijuana and associated products, including any impact on the health,
enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
- bicycle helmet laws, including any
impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of cyclists and non-cyclists;
- the classification of
publications, films and computer games; and
- any other measures
introduced to restrict personal choice 'for the individual's own good'.
In accordance with usual process, the committee advertised the inquiry
on its website and wrote to relevant persons and organisations inviting submissions
to the inquiry.
To date, the committee has received 485 public submissions and two
confidential submissions. The public submissions are available on the committee
The committee has held seven public hearings. At its first public
hearing, on 11 September 2015 in Canberra, the committee heard evidence on
decision making generally. The other public hearings focused on specific
matters in relation to the inquiry terms of reference as follows:
on 3 November 2015, in Parramatta, the committee heard evidence
on proposed restrictions on the activities of fans of the Western Sydney
Wanderers Football Club;
on 16 November 2015, in Melbourne, the committee heard evidence
on mandatory bicycle helmet laws in accordance with inquiry term of
on 20 November 2015, in Sydney, the committee heard evidence
relating to inquiry term of reference (b) concerning the sale and service of
alcohol with focus on Sydney's lockout laws;
on 9 March 2016, in Sydney, the committee heard evidence
regarding inquiry term of reference (a) concerning tobacco, nicotine and
on 11 March 2016, in Sydney, the committee heard evidence
regarding the sale and service of marijuana in accordance with inquiry term of
reference (c); and
on 22 April, in Canberra, the committee heard evidence regarding the
classification of publications, films and computer games under term of
The witnesses who appeared at the alcohol public hearing on 20 November
2015 are listed at Appendix 1. Additional information in relation to term of
reference (b) including questions taken on notice is at Appendix 2.
The committee thanks all those who have participated in the inquiry so
Purpose and scope of this interim report
This report focuses on the evidence presented to the committee in
submissions and at its fourth public hearing in relation to term of reference
(b) concerning the sale and service of alcohol.
During its examination of this specific term of reference, the committee
did not focus on alcohol per se. While the committee received evidence of the
negative social, health and economic consequences of alcohol misuse and
excessive consumption on the individual, family and community, the seriousness
of alcohol‑related health and social harms was accepted by the committee
The focus of this component of the committee's inquiry concerned the
various approaches to restricting alcohol sales and the service of alcohol. In
particular, restrictions on the opening hours and sale and service of alcohol
at licensed venues in certain areas of Sydney implemented in 2014 (commonly
described as the Sydney or Kings Cross 'lockout laws', in reference to the most
contentious of these measures) were examined in detail.
The remainder of this chapter provides the framework for Sydney's
lockout laws implemented by the NSW Government in 2014.
Sydney lockout laws
In July 2012, 18-year old Thomas Kelly was fatally assaulted in a
'one-punch' attack within the Kings Cross precinct. In response to public
outcry over this incident and alcohol-related violence more generally, the NSW
Government introduced several tranches of legislative and policy changes that
impact on the sale and service of alcohol at licensed venues in the Kings Cross
district, as well as other areas of central Sydney.
Changes implemented in 2012
On 15 August 2012, then NSW Premier O'Farrell announced that the
government intended to introduce a range of measures including special
licencing conditions on 58 'high risk' licenced venues in the Kings Cross precinct.
The objective of the measures was to reduce alcohol-related violence and
'improve safety in and around licensed venues in the Kings Cross precinct'.
Thereafter, legislation was passed which prescribed the conditions to which
licenced premises in the Kings Cross precinct were to operate.
New licenced conditions
Changes to licensing conditions in the Kings Cross precinct applicable
every night of the week included:
banning glasses, glass bottles and glass jugs after midnight;
requiring venue managers to immediately notify police of any
violence causing injury, and preserve the crime scene;
requiring all higher risk licensed venues to maintain a digital
CCTV system and provide footage authorities within one working day of a
requiring all licensees, staff, crowd controllers and security
guards to hold a current recognised Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)
Competency Card; and
requiring incident registers to be maintained at all times
(rather than just after midnight, as was previously the case).
Additional restrictions to licensing conditions were implemented for
weekend (Friday and Saturday) late night trading, namely:
banning the sale of shots and doubles after midnight;
restricting individuals to buy no more than four alcoholic drinks
at a time after midnight;
requiring two RSA marshals to be on duty in higher risk venues
after midnight (one marshal is required in some lower risk venues); and
requiring that no alcohol be sold or supplied in the hour before
The NSW Parliament passed legislation in December 2012 to increase the
area of the Kings Cross Liquor Precinct to include parts of Potts Point and
Darlinghurst, thereby incorporating a total of 134 licenced venues of which 65
were authorised to trade after midnight.
A license freeze was implemented, preventing the establishment of any
new higher risk venues until December 2015, or the expansion of existing venues
where that would result in an increase in the number of persons entering Kings
Cross principally to consume alcohol.
Changes implemented in 2013
Further changes under the Kings Cross Plan of Management were effected
in December 2013, through a second tranche of legislation passed by the NSW
Parliament. Changes to licensing condition for venues in the Kings Cross
the introduction of a centralised ID scanning system (rolled out
in June 2014), with a requirement for all high-risk venues in the Kings Cross
precinct to operate a linked identification scanner to prevent banned persons
from entering licensed premises;
the introduction of temporary (48-hour) and long term (up to 12
months) banning orders, linked to the ID scanner system, barring individuals
from entering specified venues or the entire Kings Cross precinct on the basis
of antisocial and violent behaviour;
revocation of RSA Competency Cards for breaches of privacy or RSA
obligations under the new conditions implemented;
a requirement for licensees to record daily alcohol sales and
report these quarterly to the NSW government across various reporting
a requirement for approved managers to be present at certain
times in high‑risk venues.
Introduction of 'lockouts' and
other changes introduced in 2014
Following another highly-publicised fatality resulting from a one-punch
assault on 18 year-old Daniel Christie in Kings Cross on New Year's Eve 2013,
the NSW Government announced additional measures in an attempt to curb
alcohol‑related violence and improve public safety.
The package of measures introduced on 21 January 2014 by Premier
O'Farrell were directed at tackling alcohol-related violence as part of the NSW
Government's comprehensive package to 'make our streets safer'.
Premier O'Farrell argued:
Recent violent incidents have demanded strong action – the
NSW Government is determined to put in place these measures as soon as possible
to make our streets safer and tackle drug and alcohol abuse in our community.
In addition to stricter sentencing laws for relevant offences, the
principal provisions under the Liquor Amendment Act 2013 (NSW) included
the introduction of 1.30 am lockouts and 3.00 am cessation of alcohol service
provisions, applying across an expanded Sydney central business district
(CBD) entertainment precinct encompassing from Kings Cross to Darling Harbour,
The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst (see Figure 1.1).
These provisions came into effect on 24 February 2014.
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing describes the lockout
provisions as follows:
Clubs, hotels, general bars and on-premises licences relating
to public entertainment (other than a cinema or theatre) and karaoke venues,
within the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct or the Kings Cross Precinct, are
not allowed to let people into their venue after 1:30 am, each day of the week.
These venues must not let people into the venue before 5 am, or the authorised
opening time, whichever is later. This rule also applies to any declared
premises in these precincts.
People already in a venue before 1:30 am can stay until the
close of business. They are able to leave at any time, but if they leave after
1:30 am, they are not able to re-enter that venue during the lockout period, or
gain entry to any other venue subject to the lockout.
The cessation of service provisions are described as follows:
[These venues] are not allowed to sell or supply liquor after
3 am, which is the start of the 'liquor sales cessation period'. This
requirement does not apply to venues exempt from the Precinct.
If a venue's liquor licence allows trading after 3 am, the venue
can remain open (but subject to the lockout) for other purposes, such as dining
or entertainment, but is not allowed to serve liquor. Liquor sales cannot
resume until the commencement of the next trading period, which is 5am or the
authorised opening time, whichever is later, for each day of the week.
Other measures included a ban on takeaway alcohol sales after 10.00 pm
across NSW and freeze on new liquor licences and approvals for existing
licences across the new Sydney CBD entertainment precinct.
The legislation also provided for an independent review of the
amendments relating to venue lockouts and cessation of service, to be
undertaken two years after the laws came into effect (that is, February 2016).
On 11 February 2016, the NSW Government announced the commencement of an
independent review of the 1.30 am lockout and 3.00 am last drinks measures in
the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross area. The 10.00 pm take away liquor restriction
imposed across NSW as well as the periodic liquor licence fee system were also
part of the review. To be led by former High Court Justice, the Hon Ian
Callinan AC QC, the review is expected to be 'guided by the evidence and the
experiences of the people of Sydney and NSW'.
Mr Callinan will provide a final report to the NSW Government in August 2016
with a government response to the report due later in the year.
Following the announcement of the review, Keep Sydney Open held a rally
to protest against the lockout laws. Various media reports suggest that between
8000 to 15,000 people gathered in Sydney's CBD to call for a lifting of the
restrictions on trading hours. Protestors argued that the laws were a
restriction on personal liberty, destroying Sydney's night-life and reputation
as a global city, and threatening businesses and jobs in the music and
Reports suggest that protestors were particularly critical of the exemption of
casinos from the lockout regime.
However, the Last Drinks Coalition, a group of unions representing
state doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers called for the laws to remain
in place. Coalition spokesperson, Dr Tony Sara stated that a 32 per cent
decrease in assaults in Kings Cross was a 'statistic too great to ignore'. He
concluded that the laws 'have saved lives'.
Figure 1.1 – Sydney CBD
Entertainment Precinct 
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