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  • Part 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) gives participants in a public assembly protection from prosecution for participating in that assembly but the Police Commissioner can apply under s 25(1) of the Act for an order prohibiting an otherwise authorised public assembly.
  • In Commissioner of Police v Keep Sydney Open [2017] NSWSC 5 the Commissioner successfully obtained such a prohibition order in a last-minute application.
  • The case highlights a number of weaknesses in the current statutory framework.

In the recent decision of NSW Commissioner of Police v Keep Sydney Open Ltd [2017] NSWSC 5, anti-lockouts advocacy organisation Keep Sydney Open Ltd (‘KSO’) had planned to hold a rally in Kings Cross on 21 January 2017 to protest the NSW government’s ‘lockout laws’, a series of provisions of the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) and the Liquor Regulation 2008 (NSW) which restrict trading times and conditions for venues licensed to sell alcohol.

In broad terms, KSO argues that the lockout laws have caused ongoing damage to Sydney’s nightlife, to small businesses located in the lockouts precinct, to youth employment, and to Sydney’s cultural sector, including its music and live performance scenes. The time and location of the rally were selected for their symbolism, as Kings Cross is the area most closely associated with the lockout laws, and the laws have impacted the area’s nightlife, especially on weekends.

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