The NSW government has ended lockout laws in Kings Cross, leaving Newcastle as the last city precinct in the state with strict late-night trading restrictions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Tuesday that from March 8 revellers in the Sydney red-light district would be able to enter bars, pubs and clubs after the existing 1.30am curfew.
Venues will be able to serve spirits and cocktails beyond midnight.
Regional police commander Wayne Humphrey last week described a bipartisan push to remove Newcastle's lockouts as "absolute lunacy" because the inner-city still had assault rates four times the state average.
Liquor & Gaming NSW data shows that, in the year to September 2020, the alcohol-related, non-domestic assault rate in the suburb of Newcastle was 968.1 per 100,000 people, more than 12 times higher than the 80.1 rate in NSW cities and almost double the rate in Darlinghurst (557.8).
A 2019 parliamentary inquiry found assault rates in Kings Cross had dropped 52.8 per cent since the lockouts were introduced in early 2014.
The inquiry committee recommended the Sydney CBD laws be removed but Kings Cross had not changed enough to warrant lifting the lockouts.
Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday that Kings Cross had "transformed considerably" since 2014, and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said ending lockouts would "breathe new life into the precinct and enhance Sydney's reputation as a global city".
The government and City of Newcastle have initiated a trial of relaxed licensing conditions for small bars in Newcastle, and Labor MPs have urged the government to review lockouts in the city after parliament last year approved a new system for regulating venues.
The Newcastle lockouts are not legislated but are realised by a package of Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority conditions in the inner-city precinct.
The community representative on the small bar trial committee, Dr Anthony Cook, said after a committee meeting on Tuesday that he was concerned that lockouts were next on the government's agenda.
"Despite assurances to the contrary, the small bar trial seems to be turning into a review of the lockouts," he said.
Meanwhile, an alliance of inner-city residents groups has written to Newcastle council asking it to organise a public meeting to explain its evolving policies on regulating live music and noise.
The letter from Hunter Community Forum, a Honeysuckle residents representative, Newcastle East Residents Group, Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance, NewWest Community Group and Dr Cook says the council's efforts to revive the late-night economy were causing the "rapidly expanding numbers of inner-city residents significant distress and concern".
"Inner-city residents are, collectively, the single largest group of investors in this area," the letter says.
"To address these legitimate concerns, we encourage council to organise and address an urgent public meeting/briefing for all residents ....
"This will importantly help to ensure the residents and their families are better and fully informed of the suggested changes and the implications for their likely ongoing safety, amenity, and property values."
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes responded on Tuesday saying the council's strategies were designed to encourage a more vibrant nightlife while mitigating the harmful impacts of irresponsible use of alcohol.
She said she would be happy to attend any meeting organised by the resident groups to discuss their concerns.