Review of lockout laws sparks war of words

By Jodie Stephens

Emergency service workers can't fathom why the Berejiklian government wants to review Sydney's controversial lockout laws but businesses are delighted by the development.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday announced a cross-party parliamentary committee will consult with police and health, community, entertainment and music groups when reviewing the city's night-time economy.

The government has already relaxed aspects of the laws by extending trading hours during major events and making it easier for small bars, restaurants and cafes to start up and operate.

"Now is the time, five years since the initial introduction of the laws, for us to take stock and examine whether any further changes should be made," Ms Berejiklian told parliament on Wednesday.

The premier said non-domestic assaults had significantly dropped in the CBD and Kings Cross since 2014 when the government introduced the laws in response to alcohol-fuelled violence.

The Liberal leader said everyone welcomed the increase in community health and safety "and any changes considered should keep these considerations front and centre".

Keep Sydney Open party leader Tyson Koh - who unsuccessfully ran for an upper house seat in the March state election - believes the review is a positive sign.

"We knew that (the laws) were ridiculous from day one and finally the premier has seen the light," Mr Koh told AAP.

But Dr Tony Sara from the Last Drinks campaign - which represents some police and ambulance officers, nurses and doctors - said he couldn't fathom why there would be another review.

"We would think the facts are fairly clear that the lockout laws have been very successful, they've saved lives, they've prevented serious injuries," he told reporters in Sydney.

"About 1800 assaults have not happened as a result of the lockout laws. We would say what is the point? What is going on here?"

Sydney Business Chamber spokesman Chris Lamont acknowledges the lockout laws have curbed alcohol-related violence but says "it’s clear they’ve had a negative impact on the vibrancy of our city."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore argues the lockout laws have taken a "sledgehammer" to Sydney's nightlife.

"As the committee considers winding back the laws, it must consider other measures to ensure a safe and vibrant nightlife," she tweeted on Wednesday.

Labor will support the review and plans to nominate a member from each house to sit on the committee.

"We intend to take an evidence-based approach to the impact of the lockout laws on both safety and Sydney’s night-time economy," opposition spokesman John Graham said in a statement.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party leader Robert Borsak - who like Greens MP Cate Faehrmann wants the lockout laws repealed - is cynical of the review so won't participate.

"In the end, you'll have a committee dominated by the government that will simply do the government's bidding," he told AAP.

The parliamentary committee will look at any measures needed to maintain and enhance health and community safety, enhance the night economy and ensure that regulations - including lockout laws - remain balanced.

Police Minister David Elliott noted community safety was high on its terms of reference, saying he'd be working with the police commissioner "to make sure that that is remembered".

The committee is due to report by the end of September.

AAP