Page 105 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 15 February 2011

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Liquor licensing fees

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.37): I note that Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported on 11 January this year that the new Baillieu government has slashed liquor licensing fees for restaurants, cafes and clubs. Renewal notices that are going out to licensees in Melbourne at the moment halve the liquor licensing fees for 10,500 small businesses and clubs hit by steep rises under the former Labor government, and that will see hundreds of dollars slashed from liquor licensing fees for small establishments.

Liberal consumer affairs minister Michael O’Brien told the Herald Sun that local services and sports clubs were low risk when it came to alcohol-linked violence and deserved to be supported. He said:

These sorts of clubs are the glue that holds the community together and government should be making it easier for people to get together and enjoy sport or do good works for the community.

Under the breath of fresh air provided by the new coalition government in Victoria, all licensees will have access to even lower fees, with good venues being rewarded with further discounts through a rating system. Venues with no infringements for three years will get a five-star rating and attract the lowest fees. An unblemished record for two years will bring a four-star rating. A clean record for a year will earn three stars. One or two infringements in a year will earn two stars and more than two infringements in a year will earn a one-star rating.

Poorly performing venues in Victoria face automatic shutdowns under a system of demerit points. Points will be issued for offences relating to the presence of and service of minors or drunk or disorderly people. When a licensee tallies up enough points for one of three triggers, they will receive immediate licence suspensions for 24 hours, seven days or 28 days.

This is the sort of risk-based licensing that we should have seen in the ACT, but the government and the Attorney-General lacked the imagination to do this. What we saw in the ACT was typical Labor fare—one size fits all. Just bung up the fees and see what happens. What did happen? We saw tens of thousands of dollars in increases in compliance costs for community sporting clubs such as Yowani and increased costs for people who run stalls at community markets and shopping centres. We all know that small-scale tasting venues like that are a notorious source of alcohol-fuelled violence!

There have been huge cost hikes for wine and cheese served after musical performances. We have seen the handing in of liquor licences by small restaurants and icons like the Pancake Parlour—again another hot bed of alcohol-fuelled violence! Small business proprietors of off-licences have seen increases, again, of tens of thousands of dollars if they own more than one venue.

The Labor Party and the Greens have conspired together to run the liquor and hospitality industry into the ground, to undermine diversity and to cripple small business through high fees and unnecessary regulation. They have done this because

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