There was minimal discussion of alcohol-related harm in the government's statement announcing the change to Sydney's lockout laws. It was equally absent in NSW Shadow Treasurer Walt Seccord's Monday call for the laws to be scrapped.
"Lifting lockout laws in the CBD would provide a much needed stimulus," he said. "It would mean more business, more customers and extra staff. This would be a big win for the community, patrons and the struggling economy."
A Joint Committee report cites a Deloitte estimate that Sydney foregoes $16 billion annually due to the suite of laws implemented in 2014, six years after their introduction in Newcastle.
That is not an insignificant figure, of course, yet it cannot undo loss of life or permanent physical damage caused by alcohol-related violence. These are the cornerstones of the argument those opposing the relaxations in Sydney, including the Australian Orthopaedic Association and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, lean upon. It is a difficult position to argue with. Public safety must be a priority of government, and few would argue that avoiding tragedy is an unworthy aim.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian intentionally left the door ajar to a 12-month review of the Sydney CBD relaxation. If the horrors predicted by lockout law advocates eventuate, the rules may well return.
Yet beyond public safety, there is an argument to be made that most people who imbibe do so responsibly. Newcastle is a very different city to the one that resorted to heavy-handed measures in 2008 in a bid to stem a tide of violence that had police and other emergency services straining.
No-one is willing to go back to those dark days. Yet many argue that the modern Newcastle, the city that has emerged around those rules and developed a more varied and intriguing night life as a result, deserves probation from legislated restriction after more than a decade served for the woes of the past.
Neither strengthening nor diluting the laws has achieved a groundswell of support in Newcastle. In April last year, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority's Horton report surprised both sides of the argument when it reached what authority chair Phillip Crawford described as a clear result. "The case for maintaining existing patron lockout restrictions in the 14 Newcastle venues, and for maintaining requirements for the sale or supply of liquor to cease 30 minutes before closing, was strong," he said.
Whether the basis of the argument is economic or one of public safety, it is vital that unnecessary danger is avoided through efficient laws that minimise the impost on those behaving responsibly. In Sydney, the government feels a balance has been struck while its detractors argue they have cowed to the alcohol industry's lobbying.
Newcastle will be watching closely.