A state Parliament committee has recommended another review of Newcastle's lockout laws if planned liquor-licensing changes in Sydney prove successful.
The Joint Select Committee on Sydney's Night Time Economy recommended on Monday that the lockout laws, known as The Newcastle Solution, should be relaxed in Sydney's CBD but remain in Kings Cross.
But it also said the government should consider reviewing Newcastle's licensing conditions and "working with Newcastle City Council to rejuvenate the night-time economy and its economic importance for the Hunter".
Dr Jonathan Horton QC reviewed Newcastle's 10-year-old lockout laws last year and recommended they remain largely untouched, a conclusion welcomed by Hunter police and medical professionals and later endorsed by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
The laws include 1.30am lockouts and a ban on selling shots after 10pm.
The new parliamentary committee report said that "in light of evidence it has received about the impact of liquor licence restrictions on Sydney's night time economy, there may be merit in the NSW Government conducting a follow up review" of Newcastle's laws.
The committee travelled to Newcastle for a one-day visit in July and met with Newcastle City Council, police and Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation.
Its findings linked the possible removal of lockout laws with the failure of the government's $650 million Revitalising Newcastle program to stimulate the hospitality and tourism industries.
"The Committee heard about the violent drinking culture in the city that made The Newcastle Solution necessary, but also the extensive Newcastle City Council Strategy for revitalising the night-time economy and creating much needed jobs in a region under economic stress," the committee concluded.
"The Committee was concerned that the multi-billion [sic] dollar Federal/State investment in Newcastle through outstanding projects like Honeysuckle and the city light-rail, has not yet realised the anticipated tourism and hospitality jobs in the night-time economy."
Newcastle police commander Superintendent Brett Greentree said on Monday that he had not seen the committee's findings, but "we have very strong views that we believe the Newcastle conditions are appropriate and we support what's in place now".
"We'll await further details as to the reviews," he said.
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The report said the committee "did not take any formal evidence or meet with other relevant stakeholders such as community groups and residents" in Newcastle but a follow-up review should consider a "full range of views".
Anti-violence campaigner Tony Brown, who warned publicly last month that the government could review Newcastle's laws, slammed the report's recommendation as outside its terms of reference.
"There's been no transparency about it, no openness," Dr Brown said.
"There was no opportunity for the community to have any input."
He said the committee members "clearly didn't have a clue" about Newcastle's history or the community's support for the lockout laws.
He said last month that the rise in small bar licences in Newcastle showed the city was a "shining light to the rest of Australia" that safety and prosperity could co-exist.
Hunter New England Health's submission to the Horton inquiry last year said the lockout laws had led to a 30 per cent fall in violence and assaults and should be strengthened rather than relaxed.
But parliamentary committee member Mark Latham said it would be "sensible" to revisit the Newcastle laws if the relaxing of Sydney's lockout led to more jobs and no rise in drunken assaults.
"It would be timely in a couple of years from now to have a look if the same level of success could be spread to Newcastle," he said.
"It's not any immediate recommendation for change.
"I think anyone going through the [Newcastle] CBD would look at the extraordinarily successful level of federal and state investment in facilities like Honeysuckle and the light rail and sort of think Newcastle could be on a future launching pad to have a more vibrant night-time economy that employs people.
"Given the stresses elsewhere in the Hunter Valley, where you've got others saying the coal industry should be wound back, employment and investment is vitally important.
"I'd urge people to take a longer-term view and look at the structural challenges facing the Newcastle economy.
"There's no doubt the job of police and health professionals is a lot tougher in areas with high and rising unemployment levels."
Mr Latham, a One Nation upper house MP, said the committee had not met with representatives of the hotel industry in Newcastle, nor had he been lobbied by the Hunter hotel industry.
"We're respectful of the views of the police. We had a very good meeting with them.
"But we were also impressed by the work the council's doing. It would be a shame if all that work came to nothing."
He said he had visited Honeysuckle 15 years ago and "by now it was supposed to be a tourism and nightlife and employment mecca".
"I was surprised to hear from the council it's the area that closes down first. All that public investment's gone in there.
"There is the potential for more jobs, but you wouldn't do that at a cost to public safety.
"Getting that balance right would be a matter for government to look at a couple of years from now if the Sydney experience is a success."
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said Newcastle traders had "suffered" under the lockout laws and he welcomed the prospect of a review.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the council supported easing restrictions on inner-city venues which demonstrated "consistent exemplary behaviour".
She said the city's night economy employed 12,000 people and laws should seek a balance between safety and investment.
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