When freedom gets nailed on the CrossAugust 11, 2015
We should all be disgusted about what is happening in Kings Cross these days. I’m not talking about drunken louts. Being shocked by people behaving badly in Kings Cross is like being shocked at Range Rovers in Mosman or sheep near Boorowa.
What I find disgusting is the empty streets and closure of iconic nightspots like Hugos in Kings Cross and the Exchange Hotel in Darlinghurst.
For more than a century, this area has been Australia’s red light district — traditionally the place where both Sydneysiders and visiting sailors could make rash decisions. It is not — and never has been — a place to take your kids on a Saturday night.
Moreover, the fact that this place exists means people intent on letting off steam will not encounter your kids. Countless thousands have visited Kings Cross over the years without harming anybody, or inflicting anything on themselves more serious than an empty wallet and a hangover. Every major city in the world has a naughty area that acts like a safety valve.
Kings Cross has also attracted plenty of rogues, but this has meant our police know where to find them. By putting the naughtiness in one spot, we are better able to manage it.
The lockout laws, which require pubs to refuse to admit new customers from 1.30am and come with a raft of other rules, are public policy gone mad.
Already a third of the licenced venues in the area have closed and the rest are hanging on by a thread, hoping someone in the NSW government will see sense. And it’s not just the pubs, nightclubs and dens of iniquity that are suffering. Restaurants, shops and newsagents are also closing.
In the meantime, some of the politicians who want to tell you how to live can barely manage their own lives. Many had their rites of passage at the Cross but now want to deny others the same opportunity. Others just seem worried that somebody might be having a good time.
Far more disgusting than what goes on at Kings Cross is people being thrown out of work by nanny-statists and politicians seeking to impose their hypocritical standards on us all.
But there is something even bigger at stake than that: if the lockout laws effectively close down the Cross, there will be nowhere in Sydney, and perhaps not in Australia, where it’s OK to be naughty. Part of the fabric of our city will be lost, and the fun police will have finally won the day.