Lockout laws blamed for iconic Sydney bar's closure

13 January, 2015

Iconic Sydney watering hole The Flinders, which recently closed its doors, has blamed failure on the NSW government's lockout laws.

"Those lockout laws just killed us," the bar's publicist Jason Ryan told reporters recently.

Despite tenacious efforts to make things work, he said the defunct establishment and others like it were "struggling really badly".

"Trust me, we've tried everything to make it work. But without compensation or much warning the state government is shutting the late-night pub industry down," he said.

Lockout laws in the Sydney CBD were introduced in 2014 to curb alcohol-fuelled violence following the negative publicity surrounding the one-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.

They apply from 1:30am, where patrons who leave a venue are unable to re-enter, and alcohol is no longer served after 3am. The laws include harsher penalties for drunken anti-social behaviour, and for venues which breach alcohol sales restrictions.

Peak sales period ruined

Ryan said since the peak period of his business was between midnight and 9am on Fridays and Sundays, the bar was basically operating with its hands tied behind its back.

"I sympathise greatly with the death of those two young guys, but the lockouts weren't a solution," Ryan said.

"We're an alcohol business, not a nightclub. People come to drink and hang out, and I believe they're safer in a licensed premise like ours than locked out on the streets."

Similar comments were recently made by nightclub czar John Ibrahim.

Ryan said ridiculous over-regulation in the liquor industry has forced him to re-evaluate his career.

"I'm going to have a little break for a bit after the stress of all this and then re-assess," he said.

"I don't really want to be in (the industry) any more. It's just too hard."

The report follows the release of recent figures showing the number of assaults in Kings Cross dropping to a 10-year low.

A report assessing the overall impact of lockout laws on local businesses is due out later this year.