As New South Wales heads into its State Election tomorrow, the vitality of the night-time economy and the hospitality industry as a whole, have become key election issues.

Both major parties have outlined their plans for gaming machine reform, which include NSW Labor saying it backs a 12-month trial of cashless gaming, while NSW Liberals said it supports a plan for cashless gaming by 2028.

James Thorpe, CEO of Odd Culture Group told Australian Hotelier that he welcomes gaming reform, not only as a way to curb problem gambling, but because he also believes it will improve the level of pub offerings throughout Sydney.

Earlier this week the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) held a Q&A session with the Hon. John Graham, shadow minister for Night Time Economy and Music. Graham’s Liberal counterparts, the Hon. Alister Heskens, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade; and the Hon. Kevin Anderson, Minister for Hospitality and Racing, were both invited to take part in the discussion, but declined.

Graham talked about a number of key policies NSW Labor has around the night-time economy, one of those was the revitalisation of the live music scene in New South Wales. Graham highlighted that not only does a healthy live music scene enhance Sydney’s entertainment offer, but that it’s a largely untapped profit centre for a lot of operators.

“In some ways, hospitality in Sydney is going really well. What’s got squeezed out over the last decade is performance. We’ve got less music, less performance than we ever had, and other cities at the same time have grown,” he said.

The Shout this week also reached out to Alex Greenwich MP, an Independent MP, whose voice on the night-time economy could prove to be a crucial one should NSW find itself with a hung Parliament after Saturday’s vote.

Greenwich said that it was important for a long-term strategy that will help ensure the vitality and vibrancy of Sydney’s night-time economy.

“Sydney’s night-time offerings are bouncing back from COVID but we need a strategy to ensure long-term viability of venues including to streamline development approvals and liquor licensing, and make older venues accessible and immune to noise problems,” Greenwich told The Shout. “Government support is needed to address the skills shortage in the performance industry.” 

He added: “WorldPride showed us how exciting Sydney can be at night when there are opportunities to socialise and connect. People want to live in, work in and visit cities that are dynamic and vibrant at night. I think governments of all persuasions are starting to understand how important the night-time economy is to our culture and wider economy.”

Greenwich’s point around helping venues with accessibility and noise problems are very important. We saw that outdoor dining has been extended until the end of 2024, but The Guardian Australia reported earlier this month that The Cricketers Arms in Surry Hills had been warned by council rangers because a chair in an outdoor area had been moved by 80cms. Also The Everleigh has had to end its Saturday afternoon jazz because of neighbour complaints – the hotel has launched an online petition calling for public support to reverse the council’s restrictions.

In response to questions regarding its policies for the night-time economy, Alister Henskens, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, told Australian Hotelier: “The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to delivering programs that will support the creation of jobs in the 24-hour economy; foster live music, arts and culture; and reinforce Sydney’s status as Australia’s only truly global city.

“The NSW Liberal and Nationals have also initiated the first major reform in the Liquor Licencing space since the current Liquor Act commenced in 2007, with the aim of making it easier for businesses to both start up and diversify. We will continue our work on this reform in the next term of government, if re-elected.”

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Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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