Page 2153 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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you can read and what you have read over time about salaries provided to chief executives of major organisations.

Environment—noise complaints

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development and Business. Minister, you would be aware of recent Canberra Times coverage of a dispute between Toast Cafe and Bar and the Waldorf Apartments. The dispute relates to complaints about noise emanating from Toast and allegedly disturbing residents of the Waldorf Apartments. Minister, can you outline what steps are being taken to resolve the dispute?

MR QUINLAN: I think it is very important, given that this is an issue that was aired in public, that we do in fact address some of the issues.

As I am advised, the Toast Cafe and Bar has been the subject of numerous complaints from people who reside in the Waldorf Apartments about the venue or its patrons causing loss of amenity through the creation of human and mechanical noise. The issue of loss of amenity was first considered by the Liquor Licensing Board in September of 2003 when it considered allegations that the licensee of the premises was permitting patrons to consume liquor outside the boundaries of the licensed premises. As a result of that matter, the licensee relinquished the outside area that was part of the licensed premises.

Further complaints have been received since that time about patrons of the premises causing a loss of amenity to residents of the Waldorf Apartments as a result of their conduct in the vicinity of the premises. Complainants have also raised concerns about the level of amplified noise coming from the premises in the early hours of the morning. These matters have resulted in the Environmental Protection Authority undertaking noise readings from Toast on three separate occasions. On the first occasion a written warning was issued. Following the second measurement an infringement notice was issued and consideration is currently being given to what action should be taken in respect of the third breach.

The broader issue of loss of amenity, including the issues investigated by the EPA, are part of a matter currently before the Liquor Licensing Board for consideration. The board is specifically tasked, under the Liquor Act 1975, to consider complaints about the loss of amenity arising from the conduct of licensed premises. Where it is established that a licensee has operated their premises so as to cause an undue disturbance to persons occupying premises in the neighbourhood, then the board has a range of powers that it can use to address the identified concerns. I think it is also worthy of note that the Small Business Commissioner has also had some involvement in trying to resolve the matter. Clearly the relevant agencies are taking steps to resolve the issue and I am confident that a solution can be reached that is acceptable to both parties.

It is important, I think, to note that the government has, as is proper, not attempted to take sides in this dispute. I have received correspondence on this issue, as have other ministers, and we have been careful to ensure that we are not seen to take sides on the issue. We have agencies, in this case the EPA, the Office of Fair Trading and others that are specifically charged and duty bound to investigate complaints that are made. It is

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