Sydney’s lockout laws have been nothing short of a disaster, contributing to the closure of half the city’s venues in short time, and turning young travellers away from the city, an inquiry into the controversial laws has heard.

The fight to unwind those years-old rules, however, is entering an optimistic new phase, Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Monday as a line-up of music industry professionals, artists and night economy advocates addressed a parliamentary committee, looking specifically into the city’s night life and the future of the lockout laws.

Speaking after her presentation at Parliament House, Moore said the committee was “very receptive” to those calls for change, but they won’t come without a long, drawn-out fight.

In its submission to the inquiry, city council said the laws had 500,000 fewer under-35s visiting Sydney each year and that the number of venues dedicated to live music had been cut by half in those five years.

clover moore
Clover Moore

The lockout laws were introduced in 2014 by the-then NSW premier Mike Baird as a weapon against alcohol-related violence. But the side-effects have been devastating for the creative community, the inquiry was told.

The laws are “taking the oxygen out of our cultural life, the oxygen out of our opportunities for people to socialise, for people to have jobs, for our musicians to be appreciated and that things need to change,” Moore said.