Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 26 August 2010) . . Page.. 4022 ..
MR COE (Ginninderra) (11.18): Before I get into the content of the report, I would like to thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for chairing this committee and also Caroline Le Couteur, for serving as deputy chair. It was a pleasure to undertake this inquiry. I think it is a topic that is of particular interest to the three of us and, indeed, to many others in this place and many Canberrans.
I think it is important, when we look into issues like this, that we do not necessarily work on the basis that it is up to government to solve these problems. I think it is important that we actually acknowledge that sometimes the government can be the problem and can be the restricting force and that, if there was not so much by way of regulations and legislation and other rules, perhaps we would all be better off. I think that could be the case when it comes to live events and music in the city and elsewhere. I think sometimes we run the risk of over-legislating and over-regulating and, in turn, stifling what would otherwise be a lively sector.
Speaking to what Ms Le Couteur said earlier about how she brought on this inquiry through her motion—and I supported that motion, and I thank her for doing so—prior to that, back in January last year, I put out a press release and spoke to WIN news, I believe, about prior occupancy laws and the impact that not having prior occupancy laws in the ACT is having on some businesses. That was particularly in respect of the Lighthouse bar in Belconnen, which is going to have a development go up next door to it, with apartments. There is some concern about how the Liquor Act and how the EPA will enforce the rules with regard to noise that emanates from the Lighthouse and also from patrons when they are going to and from the Lighthouse and how that will actually affect the operation of that good business.
I think prior occupancy laws in that particular instance might be handy. In that particular instance, what prior occupancy laws, I think, would suggest is that, because the Lighthouse bar has been there for a considerable amount of time in one form or another, anybody that moves into a premises next door to the bar—where the Pizza Hut currently is—might have to expect and tolerate reasonable noise emanating from that establishment and also from patrons going to and from it.
It still has to be reasonable, but I think there is some merit in that sort of legislation. I am not by any means committing the opposition to any such policy position, but it is certainly worth investigating. Indeed, that is what this committee did recommend in recommendation 21, which says:
The Committee recommends that order of occupancy principles be reflected in the objects or aims of the Liquor Act 1975.
There may well be scope to go beyond the Liquor Act and to look at other parts of legislation or other bits and pieces of legislation, but in particular the Liquor Act would be the first port of call, I would think, to actually get those principles reflected.
I am glad that recommendation 1 is an overarching one that really does set the tone for the whole report. It is:
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government should reflect on its commitment to live events in the objectives of the relevant legislation, including planning, licensing and noise regulations.