The city’s night-time economy has been decimated since the introduction of lockout laws in 2014, coupled with stronger noise and trading conditions.
Although the lockouts were scrapped entirely in 2021, many live music venues have remained on tenterhooks, with a lone complainant enough to bring punishment.
Under the reforms, NSW Liquor and Gaming would need to receive at least five different noise complaints from individuals before it considered taking action.
Arts, Night Time Economy and Music Minister John Graham was due to introduce the bill to parliament on Thursday.
Making the city ‘more fun’
Premier Chris Minns told media earlier on Thursday the proposal was a common sense approach to making the city more “fun” for both locals and tourists.
“[The laws] another step in removing the nanny state restrictions, the red tape that have really stifled the vibrancy, the life and the fun out of Sydney for the past 10 years,” he said.
“We can’t be in a situation where we claim to be a beautiful city, which we are, encourage people to come en mass for tourism, but then shut down as if we were a country town.
“We need to act and work and live like we are a major, vibrant city.”
There are currently seven separate agencies responsible for managing noise complaints, but that process would be streamlined to one.
Order of occupancy would also be a “key determinant” in assessing complaints, to protect venues from being targeted by people moving into established nightlife districts.
Live music venues would also be allowed to trade two hours later, under the new laws.
“The truth of the matter is that pub, or that nightclub or that live music venue has been there for many years, and it needs to be there for the years ahead,” Mr Minns said.
Club faced legal action over noise
Alison Avron, who runs the Great Club in Marrickville, said the business had faced legal action amid a raft of noise complaints since the end of COVID lockdowns.
Just this week police were called after they received noise complaints about a country music event about on Tuesday night.
NSW Police said officers attended the venue about 10:40pm.
“I’m happy that it is one body [to complain to] and it will be pushing toward culture and community being at the front,” Ms Avron said.
“And not people who are sitting in their houses complaining … and not processing the reality of their situation that is living next to a vibrant hub of community and live music.”
Rebecca Riant, chief executive of Clubs NSW said the reforms would be “really positive for our industry”, with particular praise for the centralisation of complaints.
“It is a very complicated system at the moment, and very difficult to navigate both for venues and the complainants,” she said.
“At the moment complaints can go to police and through to local councils and also through to liquor and gaming.”
The move was also welcomed by the state’s peak business body, which said the “anti-NIMBY” laws would free venues that had been “held hostage” to red tape and complaints.
Business NSW chief Daniel Hunter said the government’s proposal a step toward making the night-time economy more vibrant.
“For too long small businesses have been held hostage by a combination of impenetrable red tape and the complaints of lone NIMBYs, closing down venues and restricting the trading hours of legitimate, active business,” he said.