Labor promises to lift music bans and ‘put verve back into Sydney’

”We need to put the verve back into Sydney’s night life.”

But as he made the election promise at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre on Wednesday, Mr Daley reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to maintaining Sydney’s lockout laws.

However, he said Labor was prepared to look at ways “of helping and rewarding venues that do the right thing” while at the same time not “tearing apart the fabric of the safety mechanism that are built into the lockout laws”.

Labor’s election promise follows the release of a parliament report last month into the music and arts economy in NSW, which found that 669 licensed venues restrict or ban live music and entertainment. The parliamentary committee concluded that the bans were “an unnecessary block to employing musicians”.

The report also acknowledged that one of the “dominant themes” of evidence before the inquiry was that the “introduction of the lockout laws were a ‘sledgehammer’ to the city’s night-life and have resulted in the closure of live music venues”.

It also found that the NSW government would need to invest $35 million in the sector over the next four years in order to match Victorian funding for contemporary music per capita.

Mr Daley said Labor would released a fully-costed music policy before the election, but indicated he was prepared to make this funding commitment saying Labor would “do what needs to be done to put into effect the recommendations”.

Mr Daley was joined at the announcement by upper house MP John Graham, who he appointed last month to the newly-created shadow portfolio of music and the night time economy.

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Mr Graham said NSW had a “grassroots music venue crisis” as the industry had lost “hundreds of venues and thousands of jobs”.

Currently NSW has bans or restrictions in venues on dancing and rock music. It also has bans or restrictions on live music, disco, DJs, drumming, four piece bands, singer songwriters, the bass guitar, vinyl records, bands facing in a direction other than south and mirror balls,” Mr Graham said.

He said Labor’s policy would “remove these archaic restrictions in a single go”.

Lisa Visentin is state political reporter. She has previously covered urban affairs, and worked in federal parliament.

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