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54 Hyde St
Adelaide, SA, 5000

An Open Letter to the 2am Lockout Laws


An Open Letter to the 2am Lockout Laws

Paige Kerin

Hi there,

How are you? You’re getting a lot of attention today aren’t you! Some people want you to come stay in Adelaide, but unfortunately we’re here to tell you a lot of us don’t. We’d rather you stay in the non-existent realm you currently live in, so that a different, more equally beneficial solution can be put in your place. Let me explain…

 We were informed about you today by Gary Burns, the SA Police Commissioner. If you’ve seen Batman, he’s pretty much the James Gordon of Adelaide – he really wants to get rid of crime. He’s decided he thinks you would be really good for us to replace your mate the 3am Lockout Laws, which rolled into town last year. Gary Burns would like nightlife culture to change. He’d prefer us all to sit down for a quiet dinner at 5pm, followed by a glass of wine, MAYBE TWO, but only on weekends, and then we would venture into the city no later than 8pm, where we’ll mildly sway to smooth jazz on dancefloors and then head home well before midnight for a glass of warm milk before we go to bed.

 Okay, maybe he doesn’t want to go that far, but he wants to enforce a pretty serious response to alcohol-fueled crime and violence in the city, and in particular on this street called Hindley Street, which is a kind of trashy but really fun place to be. We’re not saying you’ve been thought of for no reason – there’s a problem and we do need to fix it. SAPOL have found in studies that since the 3am lockout laws came into effect, there’s been an 11% drop in violent assaults. We’re all for that, but as many people have pointed out this is also because of increased police presence, not just shutting doors earlier.

 Commissioner Burns uses this weird term ‘pre-loading’ but we’re pretty sure he means pre-drinking (affectionately known as 'pres'), which is a really fun past time where friends gather together for dinner and some drinks before heading into town for a night of fun. He thinks if we have to get to town earlier, we won’t pre-drink as long. A good solution to that would be for us to start pre-drinking earlier, but apparently that’s well outside the realm of possibility.


Now, you and your 3am counterpart have got some nice features about you, you’re not all bad! We don’t like the amount of alcohol-fuelled violence either, so measures such as increased CCTV and lighting are good ways to make sure we’re all having a safer night out. It’s no fun for the majority of us who like to have fun without punchups. We get really drunk, yes, but laws such as this are a really broad brushstroke to target the minority of party poopers. We don’t actually mind seeing Coppers everywhere either – yeah it makes us a little uneasy, but after a while they just feel like Batman – we know they’re there to help if we need, but we can’t really see them.  Some venues in town have little to no record of violence on their premises, and abide carefully by RSA to make sure no one is getting too plastered, yet still are being subject to the same rules.

 Here in Adelaide we’re really trying pretty hard to have a vibrant city with great culture, and a big part of that is nightlife. Our economy here in SA is not actually that strong either – frog cakes and tickets to see the pandas don’t make a heap of money - so while we should definitely have measures to ensure the safety of our citizens, surely something a bit more balanced with concerns of business and culture can be conjured up in that magical building on North Terrace? The SA Government seems to be really keen on Adelaide improving its culture – in fact we’ve seen good old faithful Premier Jay Weatherill speaking at the opening of various restaurants saying how great it is for Adelaide and our economy.

The Advertiser has run some surveys about people’s opinion of the lockout laws, but considering the newspaper’s readership is on average, middle class people over the ago of 30 – who these laws won’t affect – they’re not exactly gospel. We accept the government can’t have a law that addresses the individual needs and concerns of every single venue, but we don’t really need another reason for people to call us ‘the nanny state’. We’ve just finished hearing about how we should keep off the grass at all times just in case it dare get used for something fun. 

Talk of education about mental health has been ripe in Australia in recent times, and in particular the government has been working on ways to start educating people about domestic assault, which is an extremely important issue for us all to talk about. Some have proposed that we start implementing programs in primary and secondary schools to attempt to reduce the amount of violence caused on women by men at home. When we look at the issue of alcohol related violence in the city, why do we not take the same positive approach? Why not look at trying to educate young boys (I’m not trying to be sexist, but the fact of the matter is the majority of violence is caused by males) about drinking culture, and instead of discouraging it all together trying to make a real change in the way youth view drinking, and also how to deal with violent tendencies?

 You seem like a nice guy, but this really isn’t going to work. It’s not you, it’s us. We’re just that kind of city that has the ability and potential to work out a different solution to the issue, that will help to tackle the violence caused by drinking but as well not causing detriment to our economy and culture.


Kind Regards,





Authors Note: The Header Image of Bank St Social has been used because it is a great picture of one of the many amazing venues in town - not because it endorses the lockout laws