Tuesday, 1 March 2016


The Sydney bar lock-out laws were only part of a wider war, says The Monthly's Richard Cooke. It's a salvo in a wider boomer assault on the young.
The cultural effect of the lockout has been clear for a while, but a February article by Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie seemed to speak directly for those tired of having their party pooped. A detailed account of closed venues and empty streets, it received close to a million views. One statistic highlighted is so singular that it hardly needs elaboration: pedestrian traffic in Kings Cross is down by up to 84% compared with 2012 levels. “Every week, another venue or restaurant closes. The soul of the city has been destroyed,” Barrie wrote.
Politicians and commentators still seem confused by the scale of the anger over this. Isn’t it just about nightclubs? Shouldn’t this kind of people power be applied to child poverty, or some other kind of incontrovertibly “real” problem instead? But lifelessness is not just a real problem for an international city. For many of the young and those approaching middle age, it constitutes a final straw. The physical lockout is the final manifestation of a cultural lockout they have suffered for a long time. They have been locked out of the housing market, locked out of affordable education, locked out of the welfare system and secure employment. They have seen their political power and their real wealth shrivel. And now the one area where their expectations had not been curtailed – recreation – is being destroyed as well.
The lockout laws are not the closure of a few pubs because of drunken violence. They are final confirmation of who the country is run by, and who it is run for. Those details are unambiguous elsewhere. Take the Grattan Institute’s 2014 report into wealth across generations, which isn’t “across” generations at all. Generation Y may be the first generation in memory to be less wealthy than that of their parents. Almost all the benefits of the mining boom in additional government spending went to older voters. As Greg Jericho reported in the Guardian, from 2003–04 to 2011–12, households where the head was aged 55 to 64 saw their wealth rise $174,000 (19%). The households of 24- to 34-year-olds lost $10,400 in wealth – a 4% drop. In major metropolitan areas, the shut-out of the young from the housing market is almost complete.
Read the whole thing.

There are great points in there too about the hysterical anti-bar campaigns run by the Sydney newspapers. People often wonder how policy outcomes would differ if young people voted as regularly as the elderly. I wonder what newspapers would look like if readership were less age-skewed.

HT: Barnaby Bennett

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