Sydney Needs a Minister for Nightlife to Help Grow After-Dark Economy, Report Finds

Sydney's skyline at night, with a sleeping emoji above it.

Sydney is in need of a “night mayor” or “minister for night-time economy” to help grow nightlife and make the city appealing to people of all ages, according to a new report.

The Commission for a Night-time Economy, set up by the Committee for Sydney, spent a year examining ways to boost nightlife in the CBD and across greater Sydney outside activities focused on alcohol.

It found that less than half of greater Sydney residents are satisfied with Sydney’s night-time leisure and entertainment options, and has recommended the State Government introduce a “coordinating figure” to improve the city’s night-time economy.

Chair of the Committee for Sydney, Michael Rose, said poor planning and transport have failed to produce vibrant night-time precincts.

“At the moment you’ve got licensing laws, you’ve got local councils governing land use and you’ve got transport decisions being made by another entity,” Mr Rose said.

“We think it’s really important for there to be a single coordinating person looking at how to maximise the benefit of the evening for the people who live in Sydney.”

Since 2014, debate around nightlife in Sydney has centred around the implementation of lockout laws in the CBD and alcohol-fuelled violence.

The report welcomes the Government’s relaxation of lock out laws in 2016, but the commission is “concerned” about the long-term impact the current rules will have on Sydney’s reputation as a global city.

It recommends the Government re-evaluate the impacts and benefits of more relaxed lockout laws.

Despite that, the commission recognises that in some parts of greater Sydney, it is difficult to get a restaurant meal or a non-alcoholic drink after twilight.

The report — which contains input from 40 private, public, and civic organisations — makes a total of 23 recommendations all geared towards driving economic growth in greater Sydney.

Kings Cross Coca-Cola sign

The commission argues for extended late-night shopping on Fridays and Saturdays, and extended hours for community facilities, museums and art galleries.

The report suggests shopping times be extended, like in Singapore, to at least 10:00pm in major urban areas.

“You’ve got to increase the diversity of what is available to people at night,” Mr Rose said.

“So that’s not just entertainment and hospitality but shopping, cultural experiences, study, public libraries — a whole range of things operating at night which brings a more diverse crowd out in the evening.”

Mr Rose said despite Sydney hosting iconic events like Vivid, Mardi Gras and Lunar New Year celebrations, the city has untapped potential.

“They get a lot of attention but we don’t talk much about Sydney at night between those kind of headline events,” Mr Rose said.