NSW Labor pushes to scrap “historic” venue music restrictions with new bill

"It will let these musicians do their job"

A new bill introduced by the NSW Labor in the state’s Parliament yesterday (September 23) looks to remove restrictions on indoor live music events in a bid to create jobs for musicians.

The reading of the Liquor Amendment (Right To Play Music) Bill 2020 – presented by the Shadow Minister for Music and The Night Time Economy John Graham – heard that it would move to lift current restrictions on 669 venues that have banned the performance of music or certain types of music and other “historic restrictions”. 

If passed, the bill will amend liquor licensing rules and regulations in NSW in a bid to get live music back on track, creating jobs for what Graham called “some of the lowest paid workers in the state”.

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“This is a jobs bill; these are jobs measures,” Graham said. “Removing these restrictions is one thing that we can do to make sure that our venues survive.”

Graham cited existing damage to the live music industry caused by Sydney’s lockout laws, saying “the damage was more than reputational” and citing a Parliamentary inquiry into the impact of the lockout laws that found 176 potential venues had been lost in the city centre.

“Our night-time restrictions, including the lockouts but also including these bans on music, are notorious around the world,” Graham said.

The introduction of the bill to Parliament came just one day after the announcement of the Save Our Stages campaign, through which more than 60 NSW venues called for urgent government assistance to ensure the “ongoing survival” of the state’s live music industry.

“The evidence they [venues] gave is that we might lose 85 per cent of our music venues in New South Wales unless they get urgent support,” said Graham.

“In less than 24 hours since noon yesterday [September 22], more than 17,000 citizens of New South Wales have signed a petition to this Parliament calling on the Government to save our stages, save our music venues and the music that goes with them, and save the musicians and artists who rely on those venues for jobs.”

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At a press conference in Sydney yesterday, NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay welcomed several musicians who attended in support of the bill, including KLP, Isabelle Manfredi of The Preatures, and Body Type drummer Cecil Coleman, before explaining that bill would “seek to encourage live music in New South Wales and build on the need… to have jobs in a variety of industries”.

“The Government’s current approach has been how they regulate alcohol,” said McKay. “We support the decisions they’ve made… we’re not going to oppose that, but we will seek to build on that in how we bring back the music to New South Wales. We seek to do that through a bill we will put to legislative council today.

“It’s an important bill that recognised that many of the current laws have existed for a very long time and put a ban, effectively, on live music.

“We need to support our Australian musicians, and that we also need to create jobs… and that requires changes to the law to allow for live music in New South Wales.”

McKay shared the full press conference on her Instagram account. Watch it below:

Graham added, “In more than 600 venues across New South Wales, music is banned. These are all restrictions on work. We support regulated noise, we don’t support banning music.

“[The Bill] doesn’t change noise regulation, it will let these musicians do their job.”

KLP documented her visit to the Parliament House in support of the Bill via an Instagram story. “If this doesn’t go through,” she said in a clip in her story, “venues are pretty much told the genre of music they have to play, and a lot of the venues, there’s no electronic music, no mirror balls, and a limit to the amount of people you can have on stage. It’s wild!

“All the other states in Australia have caught up, and New South Wales is so behind. We need to sort this out.”

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