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24 Hour Economy Commissioner Bill 2023

I speak in support of the 24-Hour Economy Legislation Amendment (Vibrancy Reforms) Bill 2023. I was considering props and reading this at an RPM speed of 33 1/3, 45 or even 78—I said I was old. During my election campaign, I made very clear my commitment to supporting live music. It is well known that I am a bit of a live music tragic and a part-time Bono and U2 stalker. I have been blessed to see them 35 times live all across the globe. In fact, I was in a globe in Vegas the other week called the Sphere, watching U2 open that venue. I was surrounded by rock royalty like Sir Paul McCartney and Dr Dre. Even Katy Perry, Bon Jovi and Snoop Dogg were there, witnessing this next level of entertainment venue and an extraordinary U2 performance. I might have done that for three nights in a row, in fact.

I have a deep appreciation for how music—particularly live music—can touch our lives. It is great to see my young adult children, James and Alex, getting into it as they hit the late-night scenes. Naturally, I will indulge in a Bono quote or two in this speech, starting with this one:

Music can change the world because it can change people.

That has certainly been my experience. What a wise man! Similarly, I think it was Cat Stevens who once said that music can change the temperature in a room. It is a bookmark in time. When we hear a particular song, it can take us back to a moment in our life in an instant, thus instantly changing our mood. It is something that we would have all experienced. Whether it is a band, a choir, a chamber music performance or a symphony that we have watched, a live musical performance can bring goosebumps, heart palpitations, tears and a real sense of connectivity with those around us. Another Bono quote that I have long held true for various reasons is that the treble clef is the international symbol of peace. Music brings people—even enemies—together; music is above politics. Time and again in history, that has been shown to be true. Who remembers Live Aid? And so it is that this bill is proving to be above politics. Well done to all members in this place.

In summary, a thriving, vibrant cultural scene is a significant definer of a functioning, inclusive and vibrant society. Dare I say that a healthy democracy needs a healthy, thriving arts culture. All Sydneysiders benefit from a thriving CBD, but I am particularly interested in what those reforms and their future tranches will mean for our metro areas like the beaches, where I am from, and particularly for places like industrial Brookvale, set to be transformed by positive redevelopment over the coming decades and where there is massive potential for a vibrant night-time economy. Just this week, the Brookvale Structure Plan has been adopted by Northern Beaches Council—so get onto it, Minister Scully. The Brookvale Structure Plan sets the vision for growth and a transformation of Brookvale for the next 15 years or so.

Supporting the growth of creative industries and the night-time economy in Brookvale is an important part of that vision. But a vibrant Brookvale is not just an abstract plan for the future. It will build on the emerging creative scene in Brookvale, being led by pioneers at the Brookvale Arts District. I give a massive shout-out to that lot; they know who they are. But do not be fooled by the creative acronym B-A-D—BAD. This initiative, which I am proud to have played my small part to help nurture and progress, is a very good thing for our community. The Brookvale Arts District is a not-for-profit organisation bringing together awesome creative people and local businesses to create a vibrant and future-ready arts, entertainment and industry precinct. Not only is it good for our local economic development but it is also great for our community.

Michael Rodrigues, the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, has said that the Brookvale Arts District "is one of the most exciting night-time precincts to emerge in Sydney over the past few years". The Brookvale Arts District is more than just music; it is about sculptors, painters and other creatives—even poetry readings. That is as it should be. Increased vibrancy is more than just concerts; it is about supporting and encouraging the arts in all of its many forms. I was rapt that Minister Graham visited the Brookvale Arts District for the GroundSwell event at the end of October.

The Brookvale Arts District is just getting started. I am sure that these and future reforms will assist its endeavours. I thank the founders of BAD for their "vision over visibility" approach. The phrase "vision over visibility" means an insistence on seeing beyond what is to what could be. They saw the potential of those breweries and distilleries popping up in a unique industrial area that even produces widgets for NASA. But the area also had a loose collective of artists, painters and other creatives. They said, "Imagine if we could harness all of this and put it all together? What kind of a place could we create?" Internationally renowned? After all, why just be the nation's best? Let us be the world's best.

I welcome the provisions of the bill that simplify the regulation of noise complaints. The change of making Liquor and Gaming NSW the sole regulator must be communicated well to the community. It is important that local residents have a clearly understood method of raising concerns about local amenity but, importantly, that those concerns be considered consistently and in a balanced way. Embedding the order of occupancy as a central consideration for disturbance complaints is also an important principle, particularly for places like Brookvale where the future vision includes both a vibrant night-time economy and increased residential development, albeit well planned. The continuation of flexible rules for outdoor dining is sensible, and that will directly impact brewery businesses in Brookvale which made massive investments during COVID to use previously unused outdoor spaces, such as car parks, for seating and dining.

The special entertainment precinct concept is exciting and introduces meaningful incentives for more live music. I know we will see one established on the northern beaches very soon. We are planning to lodge an application for a special entertainment precinct at Brookvale on the northern beaches as soon as we can. That is "vision over visibility", and, in my opinion, that is outstanding. I am of the strong view that decisions about the location and creation of special entertainment precincts must be initiated by local councils. There should be no scope for special entertainment precincts to be unilaterally imposed by the State Government through other planning instruments. I very much welcome the Minister's comments in his second reading speech recognising that councils are best positioned to balance the needs of their communities, businesses and night-time economies. Minister Graham is to be personally commended for this.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly support the foreshadowed amendment of the member for Sydney. It will clear up any ambiguity created by the original drafting of the amendment to the Local Government Act by making it very explicit that special entertainment precincts can be made in a local environmental plan or under a State environmental plan, but only if requested by the local council. It is important that it is only the local council that can either initiate or request a special entertainment precinct. I also thank Local Government NSW and the handful of CEOs who I enlisted to work with my office and the member for Sydney's office to ensure that the changes reflected the intent of the Minister and his Government, and the councils. Ultimately, councils want the bill to succeed—make no mistake about that.

In conclusion, with this change, I fully support the bill and what it seeks to achieve. That is because we all know life can be gruelling. When we are out late—being in this place at 2.00 a.m. does not count; that is the definition of gruelling—connecting with other people in person and listening to live music that moves us, lifts us up or makes us reflect can be some of the best moments in life. When we are joyful, relaxed, playful and merry—that is for you, Ishbel—when we are experiencing those magical feelings, our cup is full, we feel re‑energised and life seems full of possibilities. So I want there to be more music, more joy and more human interaction on the northern beaches and, indeed, across New South Wales.

With the right settings in place, like those proposed in the bill, we can get the balance right between public safety and amenity, while allowing the night-time economy to flourish. I welcome those reforms, and I am glad to see them pass in a bipartisan way as we embrace the festive season. I look forward to hosting all members in Brookie with my parliamentary colleague the member for Manly, James Griffin. Our electorates share a boundary in Brookie. He has also assisted me with helping BAD to fulfill its vision. I want all members to see for themselves the possibilities and the intent of this bill, and how it can come to life. It will be the member for Manly's shout. He just does not know that yet. As Paul McCarthy said, "Let it be."

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