Melbourne Is Facing A Stealthy, 15 Year Long Lockout Law Style Crisis

15 August 2022 | 10:10 am | Parry Tritsiniotis

A 15 year attempt to curb, 'alcohol-fuelled late-night violence,' has restricted any new venue operating past 1AM in Australia's cultural and late night hub.

(Image Via Miscellania's Instagram)

In the middle of the heat of the pandemic, on the 1st of July last year, the Victorian Government announced an extension of the freeze of granting new liquor license applications to trade after 1am in local government areas including Melbourne, Stonnington, Yarra and Port Phillip.

This means that any new or established restaurant, cafe, club, or major event can not gain a license past 1am in the morning. The inner-suburban freeze has been implemented since 2008 and was expected to expire in June of 2019. The temporary license freeze is now lasting over 15 years meaning an entire ban on the new issue of late night licences. 

There are many concerns that now that the reality of the extension is kicking in (in an era that we are living through COVID) that the eradication of new spaces is dampening the once globally celebrated nightlife of Melbourne/Naarm. The Victorian Government claims to be "placing creativity at the heart of Victoria's recovery," while not supporting the spaces at all. 

It's fair to describe the measures as stealthy, forced upon to the city after an attempt to force a 2am lockout on Melbourne in 2008 before being faced by a huge wave of uproar. Instead, the Brumby government at the time introduced the license freeze. It was initially a temporary measure to curb late night alcohol-related violence, an all too familiar regulatory reasoning if you're a NSW resident. 

According to data from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, liquor licenses are down 10% since 2014. Victoria's population in that time has increased by 13%. 

User @indiciaa on Twitter summed up the issue perfectly stating, "hello the temporary licensing freeze in Melbourne was introduced in response to widespread resistance against lockout laws in 2008. it has now been extended to 2023, meaning a 15 year ban on late night licenses. it IS a lockout law. their plan is to wipe out late night spaces."

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Talking to The Guardian on the issue associate professor at Monash University Shane Homan stated, "When you restrict liquor licences to 1am, it of course has a stifling effect on all nightlife in the city. [These spaces] have important social benefits and economic spin-offs. Too often their cultural value is overlooked.”