Late Night Sydney

I met this week with industry leaders from liquor and gaming, restaurants, retail, transport, tourism, entertainment, arts, police, special events and a local resident group to update them on the City's late night policy.

I want Sydney to be open late and to have different options for people after 11pm and that's why I asked the City to develop a late night policy - a first for Sydney.

We've just finished a hugely successful first round of consultation, receiving thousands of suggestions from the community on what kind of late night city they want.

No long term decisions about the policy have been made yet but we are trialling some practical ideas that received strong support in the first round of consultation. These are:

  • Introducing roving, high quality food trucks in Sydney;
  • Encouraging pop-up events by providing clearer guidelines and pop-up event workshops;
  • Activating spaces not used at night such as the successful late night sessions at Surry Hills library;
  • Better support for business by helping to make DA processes clearer, new business workshops as well as a commitment to look at how the City can cut red tape for things like outdoor dining and extended trading hours for businesses and events;
  • Portable urinals which will be trialled again over summer in the CBD, Oxford Street and Kings Cross;
  • Opening the tourist information kiosk on George Street until 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights; and
  • The return of the highly successful Precinct Ambassadors.

Thousands of residents and visitors have told us, loud and clear, that they want a better drinking culture - a safer, more diverse, entertaining and interesting night time culture. And we agree.

The success of our consultation and the strength of the messages we have received seems to worry Scott Leach, the President of the AHA, who has resorted to peddling disinformation about the policy and our intentions. The AHA were invited to participate in the consultation and had a representative at this week's forum but raised no issues during the discussions.

Unfortunately the AHA seems to still be as out of touch with the Sydney community as they were back in 2008, when they mobilised to fight the wildly successful small bars campaign. Former AHA President, John Thorpe, ironically helped generate support when he claimed, "We don't want to sit in a hole and drink chardonnay and read a book."

More than 40 small bars have now opened in Sydney since the legislation I championed went through in 2008 - that's faster uptake than any other Australian city.

A 2004 report estimated that the late night economy in New York was worth nearly $10 billion a year and the latest research shows the night time economy is worth around £66 billion in the UK.

I have no doubt that Sydney's late night economy, if allowed to grow and prosper in a responsible way, will also add substantially to our city's overall economy. That's why as part of the development of this policy we have commissioned research to work out what Sydney's night time economy is worth - a first for any city in Australia.

The City will look at the results of public consultation as well as further research to draft the official Late Night Economy policy, which will then be available for further consultation.

Like NYC, Paris, Shanghai and Barcelona - all great cities with a rich range of options for people to enjoy late at night - Sydney deserves a great night life.

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