The ACT Government is introducing new liquor license fees to pubs and clubs in Canberra. This may not seem like a big issue, but it will ultimately affect people in this city – small business owners and punters alike. I know previously PM and others have posted on this previously and about the decline of small inns and taverns in Canberra.
Places that will be affected – for example: The Wig and Pen, The George Harcourt Inn, The Pot Belly, The Basement & The Maram.
Any places that wish to trade past midnight now must apply for a liquor license fee to do so. The Basement outlines this in the recent article above. It is an astronomical hike, and for many small places, one that makes trading unviable. The unfairness in this is that larger places, (and in a generalisation if you’ll allow me they are the ones that have violence and anti-socialable behaviour related to it that concern the AFP and pollies so much) are the ones that have a much larger clientele and/or pokie machine money to cover the cost of the license increase.
Small business owners carry this cost on their own. The bars I’ve mentioned have very very low incident rates of violence and anti-social behaviour. (Check the police media if you don’t believe me.) It seems to be a case of the troublemakers making everyone pay for something that I can’t even understand, making no difference to antisocial behaviour or city nightlife issues!
Boohoo says you, fine, but think about the impact for the Canberra community –
After midnight, the city will get busier, and possibly drunker, with the equivalent of the 6 O’Clock swill taking place in the suburbs.
Your drink prices might increase to cover the charge.
Loss of more local social spaces
Loss of live entertainment spots – You may not be able to book a gig as easily if you play in a band. Opportunities to perform may be lessened. – You may not get to see regionally touring bands like Regurgitator or other great Australian and international bands.
Many of these places cater for different style of lifestyle and live events like pool and darts tournaments, hip-hop or metal music, comedy shows or charity fundraisers. These are not things that can be accessed in larger venues as easily or as warmly.
There are many more impacts and they are highlighted in the petition circulating in local clubs and pubs now. Several small business owners have gotten together to hold meetings with local politicians and it led to writing of this petition. It was felt that these meeting were incredibly disappointing for the owners and there was no room for discussion on the changes or empathy for their position.
I have also written to Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Federal Member for Fraser to ask for his assistance with his Labor colleagues. Dr Leigh recently gave a speech about the importance of social engagement and communities as being an important fabric for Canberrans, so I hope he can understand the impact that laws like this may have on not just business owners, but the people who attend these places regularly and do so with sense of camaraderie, responsibility and community spirit. I look forward to his letter to Minister Corbell on this matter on my behalf.
I strongly urge you to support the pledge to our local government to push back on this bill or at least get some better options on the table for discussion.
Please head to your local and put your name on the petition.
It’s due tomorrow and I hope this plea hasn’t hit you too late!
(p.s I submit this to RA with the hope that it focuses on the issue, not a discussion of ‘oh that place sucks, I’ve been there and it was awful.’ Up to you to not attend, I don’t care – but I’d really encourage to think about it for the sake of your friends, family and workmates who may enjoy these small pubs and venues, as well as the sustainability of local culture and parity of business)