Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 18 November 2010) . . Page.. 5664 ..
Let us look at the risk. If you are going to put a charge based on risk, then make the charge fair. The simple approach is always the approach of this minister. He cannot look at the complexities of these industries. “We will just bill them all.” And that goes back to Ted Quinlan’s axiom on tax: “Squeeze them until they bleed but not until they die.” This is simply about squeezing.
If we were having a risk-based approach to this we would look at where the risk occurs, where the incidents occur, and then make a decision based on that. But if you are saying that putting up the fees for the Tharwa general store is going to address risk then you are just fooling yourself. The Tharwa general store has been run by one Val Jeffery for the last 40 years. It is an off-licence. He has never had a breach of his licence. His fees are going from $1,100 to $1,695. On top of that, he has to pay $135 to continue his business as he has done for the last 40 years. This is coming at a time when his sales have been falling over for the last couple of years following the government’s debacle on the Tharwa bridge. I am told it took Val about two days to fill out the forms and get the paperwork together. But there were still glitches.
What is the risk of the off-licence at Tharwa generating alcohol-fuelled violence in Civic, for instance? I think it is a very tenuous bow to draw. He is picking up a 50 per cent increase in his fees. “That is okay because it is risk based. That is okay. One size fits all.” This is the minister’s approach—and he has got it wrong before—and we will be back to fix this, members. We will be back.
Mr Rattenbury said that the $100,000 threshold—and I hope I quote him right—“does not strike me as practical at this time”. If it is not then let us change it. If you have not got it right—and we just heard from the minister there has not been a substantial change for 20 years—you are still willing to set that low threshold. That simply means that this is another government grab for revenue. You are not serious about the problem, the same as you were not serious about police numbers, the same as you were not serious about getting the transport mix right to get people away from these venues.
So you have to ask: what is the outcome? What is the increased risk of the risk-based approach? And the increased risk is that at midnight, when the number of venues will now choose to close because they will not choose to pay these fees, you will actually put more people into the mix. My prediction is the venues that will truly choose to stay open will be mainly Civic based. Those venues after midnight will have additional people rushing to them.
Indeed, what the minister is setting up is an increased critical mass in the area that we already know is plagued with this problem. He will be making a new problem and it will not be increased risk. It will be risk-induced problems that this minister creates, which will be supported by the Greens. The Greens have said they understand the $100,000 threshold. That is okay. “We are going to keep it at that level.”
Mr Rattenbury and Ms Hunter attended the same meeting as Mrs Dunne, Mr Corbell and I, when people were saying, “People really do not go home at about midnight, but about 12.30 they tend to start going home, maybe 1 o’clock.” What analysis did we do