2 February 2018

Where the Multicultural Festival liquor permits went

| Ian Bushnell
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National Multicultural Festival - Jack Mohr (Photographer)

The 21st National Multicultural Festival held in 2017. Photo: Jack Mohr.

A list of those granted liquor permits at this month’s Multicultural Festival reveals that while not all are big clubs, most are commercial enterprises including local brewers, a supermarket, and restaurant.

The 20 permits are far fewer than last year’s event when 62 stallholders, including not-for-profit community groups, were able to sell alcohol and boost their incomes.

Festival organisers said they had decided to cut the number of liquor permits to reduce drunkenness and maintain a safe, family environment for the event, citing feedback from police in a review of last year’s festival.

Craft brewers BentSpoke and Capital Brewing are among the permit holders, as are the George Harcourt Inn, Mobile Margaritas and World of Beer.

Clubs include the Croatian Club, Serbian White Eagles Football Club, and the Harmonie Club, while the Supa IGA from East Row and Korean BBQ will also be able to sell alcohol at the festival.

Clubs ACT Chief Executive Gwyn Rees said the list showed festival organisers had not favoured the bigger clubs.

But longtime festival volunteer Leo Dobes, who has criticised the move to slash the number of liquor permits, said the great majority of permit holders were commercial enterprises and the community associations were being disadvantaged.

“What’s happening is that the liquor permits are being given to people who already have income sources. The community associations don’t have that at all. They are the smaller end of town and being disadvantaged,” Mr Dobes said.

“It’s not clear why the guys who already have a business are getting the advantage.”

He said there was no reason why they shouldn’t get a permit but believed the others should as well.

The row over liquor permits comes as the Festival faces fewer stallholders and disquiet among the diplomatic missions, with the Tongan Embassy upset at being refused a permit and accusing the Government of disrespecting their culture by stopping it from selling handicrafts.

The list of liquor permit holders is:

  • BentSpoke Brewing Co.;
  • Wanniassa (Kambah) Scout Group;
  • George Harcourt Inn;
  • Greek Orthodox Community & Church of Canberra – Canberra Olympic FC (involved with Hellenic);
  • Slovenian-Australian Association;
  • Mobile Margaritas;
  • World of Beer;
  • Krave More Pty Ltd;
  • Candela Foods;
  • Supa IGA East Row;
  • Capital Brewing Co.;
  • Harmonie German Club;
  • Lodge Ethos 963 (Freemasons);
  • Alex Crawford (Associated with Canberra Celtic Pipe Band Inc.);
  • Victor’s Churrasco;
  • Canberra Brewers;
  • North Canberra Bears Inc.;
  • The Australian Croatian Club Limited;
  • Serbian White Eagles Football Club Incorporated;
  • Korean BBQ.

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Was a brief visit this year. Thank god coffee club had a stall! Dont want this event to be different to rocking up to a Westfield on a Tuesday morning. Whoevers in charge, time to go.

As usual I suppose most of the bars in civic will trade through the event so that’s always an option. You can’t expect perfect behaviour when so many people are involved and most antisocial behaviour occurs long after kids and families have gone home. There is an element of wowserism creeping into Canberra though; those of us who have fond and perhaps slightly hazy memories of The Food and Wine Frolic were witness to a riotous party on a large scale – and we loved it!

Have the organisers or police or government released any figures on the number of arrests at previous festivals and compared them to an ordinary February weekend? If so that would be useful information in looking at whether the reduction in permits was justified. If they haven’t, then I’d have to say there is no justifcation.

Fun police.

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