Brewers face impact of Sydney lockout laws


Almost 500,000 fewer people under 35 are visiting Sydney after lockout laws were imposed says the City of Sydney Council, and while the late night crowd might not be regulars at the city’s brewpubs, its affecting how people consume beer according to local brewers.

A NSW parliamentary enquiry into Sydney’s night time economy in the aftermath of the 2014 laws was told last week that nightlife venues are down 7 per cent in number.

Data from the City of Sydney found that there are now 50 per cent fewer restaurants (which are blaming lockout laws and a “stagnant economy” for their closure), and only 9 per cent of entertainment businesses trading after midnight.

Mike Clarke from Marrickville’s Sauce Brewing Co said that while the lockout laws don’t affect breweries and brewpubs directly (with Sauce closing at 10pm) it affects beer sales, Sydney’s venue diversity – and therefore its tourism.

“While lockout laws don’t directly affect taprooms, there’s a knock-on effect to us. Think about the number of venues in the city that have gone bust, they’re not buying beer anymore – wholesale beer sales in Sydney are going down.”

The effect on tourism in the city is also a concern, he said.

“As the Sydney council submission laid out, it’s very very badly damaged the city. There are less visitors to the city and that has a knock on effect to us as well.

“The Inner West is a tourist destination, and if less people are visiting Sydney then less people are visiting us.”

It’s not just a consumer-facing problem either, and it affects the prospects of staff in breweries who participate in Sydney culture.

“A lot of people that work for us, they’re in the music industry or something similar and this has damaged their prospects for work. That’s really damaged our community and the people that work for us are our family.

“All these things which don’t affect us directly still have a detrimental effect. There’s less creativity and it just pushes more people into the casino – which can be considered much more damaging than drinking.”

Andrew Fineran from Batch Brewing Co in Sydney’s Inner West agreed that there’s a knock-on effect from the lockout laws.

“The intentions of most breweries are not to participate in late night economy, but we see the value in what it does for the economy – it creates more jobs, it creates more culture and more vibrant lifestyles,” he said.

“I see the value in music venues and the younger demographic wanting to stay out late and have fun – there is a whole culture piece around it that people want to experience and enjoy the city at night.”

He said that the way his and other brewery businesses are structured, anyone with wholesale interests will be seeing the indirect effects of the lockout laws.

“There’s a business case for us to be present [in nightlife venues] – it’s good business for us to have lockout laws rolled back because it means we can sell more beer to more people – responsibly of course – it would be positive across the board.”

The Council revealed the depressing statistics to a parliamentary enquiry into Sydney’s night time economy last week. It led notables including Lord Mayor Clover Moore to call the effect of the lockout laws “devastating”.

Moore said bars, clubs, pubs and live music venues were “collateral damage” in a media release.

The City of Sydney’s submission supports the removal of the 1:30am lockout and 3:00am cease service rules and the parliamentary inquiry could prompt change to the laws, which the Lord Mayor compared to “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Hearings regarding the lockout laws and their potential rollback will be held on 5th, 9th and 12th August, and the committee will report to the NSW Parliament by 30th September.

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