Medical professionals and emergency services workers have labelled Premier Gladys Berejiklian's ambition to wind back Sydney’s lockout laws in the central business district as "disappointing" and "premature".
Ms Berejiklian hopes to introduce legislation to scrap the 1.30am lockouts in the CBD by the end of the year, in a NSW government about-turn she says is aimed at reviving the night-time economy.
But Ms Berejiklian believes the controversial restrictions should remain at venues in Kings Cross.
Ms Berejiklian's move to reform the laws preceded the final report from a cross-party committee scrutinising the night-time economy that is due in Parliament before September 30.
“While we will await the committee’s report, I agree it’s time to enhance Sydney’s nightlife," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement to the Herald on Sunday. “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that."
St Vincent’s Hospital spokesman David Faktor was disappointed by the plan and said medical professionals would “wait to see the detail” of the Premier's proposal.
“Kings Cross did have unique problems but before the lockouts were introduced we saw a sizeable amount of [emergency department] presentations coming from the CBD itself," Mr Faktor said.
"It was not limited to one area. At the end of the day people drinking at 4am or 5am, who are seriously intoxicated, whether that’s happening in the CBD or Kings Cross doesn’t really matter."
“For our doctors and nurses, this is disappointing because they’re the ones who’ll be picking up the pieces.”
The move was also lashed by the Keep Sydney Safe campaign, which represents emergency services workers. Spokesman Tony Sara said the Premier's announcement was "premature".
"The committee's process isn't being respected and nor is the input and evidence presentedby submitters," Dr Sara said.
"At this stage, given the committee's report is being effectively ignored, we have no idea of how they have balanced known risk factors or projected what it will take to preserve safety."
Ms Berejiklian said: "I think the main concerns do stem around Kings Cross and all the medical practitioners, doctors and police who've given us feedback do feel very strongly about Kings Cross.
"That's why I think relaxing or repealing the laws in the rest of the precinct is where we should look at."
Ms Berejiklian said the report was "imminent" but admitted she still needed to discuss any proposed reforms with cabinet.
One Nation MP Mark Latham, who is on the parliamentary committee, said on social media members had "wasted 50-60 hours in meetings, inspections and research to try to get quality recommendations, a process now wiped by Gladys B".
Ms Berejiklian denied the announcement was an attempt to divert attention from the fiery debate around abortion law reform, saying she was "happy to have people say whatever they like".
Ms Berejiklian has faced increasing pressure from some politicians and industry groups to wind back the laws or introduce measures to bolster the late-night economy. The proposed change was first reported in The Sunday Telegraph.
Labor supported the review. A senior ALP source said the Opposition would wait until the committee's report was handed down before it reached a position on the policy.
The chief executive of hospitality giant Solotel, Justine Baker, said she was “thrilled to see this as step one”.
“We’d really like the same approach to happen in Kings Cross, but I do understand that is a hard reputation to change."
Former premier Barry O’Farrell introduced the laws in 2014 amid rising concerns about alcohol-related violence in the city and the deaths of teenagers Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie following separate one-punch assaults.
The laws prohibit patrons entering pubs and clubs in Kings Cross and the CBD after 1.30am and stop bars from serving drinks after 3am.
The lord mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore, was "pleased to hear the Premier will take steps to repeal the lockout laws".
The parliamentary inquiry into Sydney's night-time economy received nearly 800 submissions. While the bulk of those submissions pushed for the laws to be repealed, medical industry groups representing doctors and nurses remained opposed to the laws being scrapped.