Attention Mike Baird: 'Keep Sydney Open' Protest Draws Thousands

22 February 2016 | 10:11 am | Staff Writer

Unlock Sydney.

With Sydney's contentious lockout laws currently up for review, locals ensured their voices are being heard as an estimated 15,000 people took to the streets for the latest 'Keep Sydney Open' rally yesterday which also featured live performances by Royal Headache and Art vs Science.

Kicking off at Belmore Park, those in attendance marched all the way through to Hyde Park as a huge number carried signs and banners which called out the government on the laws with slogans such as "Sydney not Shitney", "Safe Streets Not Empty Streets" and "Lock-out Laws Are Killing Our Live Music Venues", while many wore white 'Keep Sydney Open' shirts.

Speaking at the rally, Keep Sydney Open's Tyson Koh said, "This is a celebration of what makes Sydney great...This is as much a celebration as it is a protest.

"This is a protest against laws that have damaged our city unnecessarily."

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DJ Nina Las Vegas expressed her disappointment of how the city's nightlife has taken a severe blow since the lockouts were introduced in 2014. 

"Not so long ago Sydney was vibrant...You could find friends with whom you could share the last dance," she said. 

"Venues are fighting for the same crowds, for the same acts...Everything is dead silent."

Meanwhile, Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner suggested the government has little faith in its own residents. 

"People have been cowed into thinking it is shameful to go out after 1.30am," Faulkner said. 

"What sort of city wouldn't trust its residents to buy a bottle of wine after 10pm?"

The Preatures vocalist Isabella Manfredi revealed that nearly all the venues in which the Sydney-founded band performed at in their early years have since closed. 

"This is and was my scene. It shaped my identity... It told me that I belonged and was part of something," Manfredi said.

"The main distressing thing about the laws was the way they were implemented without consultation with the community," she continued, adding, "The government is saying to young people that you don't matter."

The discussion as to why The Star Casino is exempt from the lockouts was again brought up, this time by author Bernard Keane, who said that the establishment has given over $600,000 in political donations to the country's political parties, while many marched with signs targeting the casino with phrases such as, "We Don't Want To Gamble We Just Want To Dance".

It has been reported that a review of the laws will be delivered this August.

Surprisingly however, as reported by Fairfax, a Galaxy poll has revealed that two-thirds of NSW residents support the laws. 

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) poll shows that 80% support a 3am closing time for bars and clubs, while 66% support 1am lockouts and 63% support 10pm closures for bottle shops. 

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said of the poll, "We are in the middle of great economic uncertainty at the moment and we shouldn't be surprised businesses are under pressure.

"These heroic claims it is all down to the lockouts are fallacious."