NSW Government Looks To Scrap Lockout Laws In Sydney's CBD
In a massive backflip, the NSW state government is planning to reverse some of the existing lockout laws that were introduced into Sydney's CBD in 2014 by then Premier Barry O'Farrell.
The cabinet is apparently pushing for the booze ban to be significantly relaxed when the new light rail is finally complete in the city's center.
Other areas of Sydney, including King Cross, will still have to adhere to the controversial law, however the CBD is set to revert to it's former status.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro wants the change in the law to coincide with the light rail construction barracdes being taken down at the end of the year.
A new pedestrian boulivard from Hunter Street to Town Hall will open and the plan is for the 1.30am lockout law to be scrapped at the same time.
However, Police Association President Tony King has slammed the plan, telling 9NEWS:
"The laws work, any politician that changes these simple laws will have blood on their hands," "
But the Australian Hotels Association's John Green has been calling for a relaxation of the laws since they were first implemented.
"Venues that do nothing wrong should not be blanketed with draconian measures and it's about time we looked at that,"
Meanwhile, Sydney's beleaguered CBD light rail project has been delayed yet again and its $2.1 billion price tag could further blow out.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard the firm building the line to the eastern suburbs has a new completion date of May 2020.
That's more than a year later than originally planned and two months slower than a revised March 2020 deadline.
Acciona Infrastructure Australia managing director Bede Noonan claims the government knew of the latest delay two months ago.
"I don't want to answer on behalf of the government but it is quite clear that we notified in August," Mr Noonan told the inquiry on Thursday.
The latest delay was due to electricity distributor Ausgrid failing to move overhead wiring in Kingsford and Kensington, he said.
ALTRAC, the consortium overseeing the entire project, suggested Transport for NSW wants the numbers informing the May 2020 date run again.
The Berejiklian government and Ausgrid have been contacted for comment.
Mr Noonan laid much of the blame on the project's massive delays on Ausgrid which he claimed presented new requirements after the project's $2.1 billion contract was signed in February 2015.
The issue is currently the subject of a court battle with Acciona seeking more than $1.1 billion extra from the state government.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has alleged the Spanish-owned firm engaged in a "go-slow".
Acciona told the inquiry it knew underground utilities were the number one risk to the project but Ausgrid's post-contract document "bore no resemblance to what we had agreed to".
The document stated how Acciona had to treat, modify or expand state-owned electricity wiring pits along the route. Mr Noonan said expanding pits often meant having to bore into areas not surveyed pre-contract followed by a lengthy process to identify and move pipes underground.
"We dig a hole, find something, you stop," Mr Noonan said.
"(This is why) the public are going, 'Why is there no work going on?'"
He said the additional works meant Acciona had already spent $580 million above and beyond the $870 million budget.
If its court claim succeeds, the project's cost to taxpayers would be north of $3 billion.