By Nicholas Li
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has reassured hospitality business owners in the CBD that the council is not entertaining a return to lockout laws.
Speaking at the launch a report on the second year of the Melbourne Retail and Hospitality Strategy 2013-2017, Cr Doyle reaffirmed the city’s strong anti-lockout stance.
“They did not work for our city. From what I hear in Sydney, King’s Cross – that thriving centre – is pretty much a ghost town at night. In Melbourne we’ve gone the other way. We’ve actually said that we’re going to have a normalised culture of the city late at night,” he said.
According to data from the National Local Government Drug and Alcohol Advisory Committee, residents and visitors to the city spent 11 per cent less on alcohol in 2015, the largest reduction in any Australian city. In contrast, spending on food was up 32.8 per cent.
Cr Doyle said the hospitality and retail industries were driving the city’s economy.
“What this latest report shows is that retail and hospitality is absolutely booming in Melbourne. An economy just in the centre of the city that is now $90 billion, retail and hospitality makes up $5.5 billion, which makes it a big employer and a big contributor,” he said.
The hospitality and retail industries combined gross local product (GLP) has grown 23 per cent since the introduction of the strategy. Flagging later licensing for select bars and restaurants, Cr Doyle said growth in the hospitality sector was encouraging night life.
“One bar or restaurant opening every week for 10 year shows me the demand is there. It’s partly what people are expecting right now. They want it to be in an interesting and vibrant city,” he said.
Cr Doyle said no one was pushing for a return to the lockout regime of 2008.
“Because we’ve been dealing with it for so many years I think we’ve got on top it through a range of things. We haven’t got to the point where people are calling for lockouts because the crime rate has dropped,” he said.