Page 5656 - Week 13 - Thursday, 18 November 2010

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Firstly, pure and simple, it defaults back to the current fee schedule. Secondly, my motion goes to giving the government direction on what a proper risk-based fee schedule should look like. It calls on the government to go back to the drawing board, to engage in a more robust process of setting fees, to be more realistic in terms of the risk elements and to throw away the one-size-fits-all approach to create a fairer fee regime across the industry. More importantly, the element of going back to the drawing board will end up with engagement and consultation with the industry. This is because much of the material this motion asks the government to consider can only come from the industry.

It is interesting to note that I know of two approaches to the minister from a number of organisations where alternative fee schedules have been proposed which are more equitable. I know that off-licensees have gone to the government and provided alternative fee schedules which would end up with similar revenues and I know that both ClubsACT and the Australian Hotels Association have put to the minister alternative proposals which are more equitable and address people’s capacity to pay.

This is a very important issue for a large sector in the ACT community. This is about the operation of small businesses across the territory and their capacity to continue to operate, their capacity to continue to employ people in the ACT. I am sure Mr Smyth will speak on these issues as well and he can draw on some of the case studies where people are being adversely affected across the territory with huge costs, increased costs not just in the taxes being paid to the government but in compliance fees.

This is an important issue today and I challenge the government and I challenge the Greens to stand up for the small business people in the ACT, to stand up for the people who employ our kids and to stand up for diversity in the hospitality industry in the ACT. I commend the disallowance motion to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.26): The Greens will not be supporting the sections of the motion that disallow the 2010 liquor fees determination. We believe it is too late to change these fees and to do so would simply create uncertainty in the sector. Instead, as I have circulated, we will be proposing amendments to the motion to require the fees to be comprehensively reviewed and publicly reported on by 1 October next year. We will also be moving that the review be taken into consideration in future fee determinations.

Unfortunately, it really is the eleventh hour and licensed venues only have eight clear working days until these fees are due on 1 December. We believe it is counterproductive to create confusion in the sector at this late stage. Certainly, we are aware that some venues have already paid their fees and others are literally paying them as we debate this motion. To delete the fee schedule at this late stage, we believe, would be irresponsible. With eight working days to go between now and 1 December when the fees are due, it is entirely unclear what would happen if the fees were disallowed. Mrs Dunne has given a view on that but I think licensees would enter a limbo where they have a fast-approaching due date but are not sure of what they were meant to pay. And some have already paid under the existing structure.

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