Page 1254 - Week 04 - Thursday, 21 March 2013

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has undoubtedly been generated around Canberra. I look forward to launching that new brand later in the centenary year and building on the magnificent achievement that is Canberra’s centenary.

Licensed premises—occupancy

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Attorney-General. Attorney-General, I am aware of a recent newspaper report of a large meeting being planned for next week at a Canberra hotel and concerns being raised about whether the premises proposed for this meeting will be adequate for the number of people anticipated. Attorney, can you please advise what process is undertaken by the Office of Regulatory Services and ACT Fire and Rescue to ensure that occupancy loadings for licensed premises are appropriate and what other factors are taken into account?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. Yes, this is obviously a matter which many Canberrans will be concerned about. Of course, ensuring that there is not overcrowding in licensed premises is a concern for the government. The Liquor Act requires that licensed premises have an occupancy loading which is determined, upon receipt of a liquor application, by the Chief Officer of ACT Fire and Rescue.

I would be very happy to advise Mr Gentleman what factors are taken into account and also what factors are completely irrelevant. First of all, of course, it is important to ensure that the licensed premises abide by the Building Code of Australia in relation to assessing the safe occupancy of the premises. This is a formula based upon floor area, total exit widths, distance of travel and class of occupancy.

The application also needs to take account of harm minimisation—not, I should say, harm minimisation to people’s political aspirations, nor harm minimisation in relation to protecting the existing endorsement for Senate candidature, but harm minimisation and community safety principles only.

Of course it is also important that the facilities available to the patrons are sufficient, including the provision of toilets which I understand in relation to this meeting may be needed to avoid perhaps unfortunate encounters between competing candidates.

So there are a range of factors that the Chief Officer of Fire and Rescue does have to take into account. Of course there also needs to be a sign provided by the licensee identifying the occupancy loading area. I think the provision of written information is very important. We trust in fact that this will be perhaps something that the convenors of this meeting that has been reported, which Mr Gentleman refers to in his question, may wish to take into account—making sure that perhaps people are aware when meetings are being convened and who is entitled to attend. We would not want there to be a lack of display of relevant information for people attending these types of meetings.

These are the types of matters that the Commissioner for Fair Trading and the Chief Officer of Fire and Rescue have to take into account. Contrary to assertions by others, this is all about ensuring harm minimisation and the needs of patrons, and not, of course, dealing with any issues around a disaffected rump.

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