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Govt flags more liquor licensing reform

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The State Government is considering a new round of liquor licensing reform to loosen regulations on city bars and clubs hosting live entertainment.

Currently, venues must apply to the state Liquor Licensing Commission for entertainment consent or an entertainment licence in order to have musicians, or other entertainers, perform inside or outside their venues.

The West End Association wants the Adelaide CBD exempt from the requirements.

Asked about the idea, Minister for Business Services and Consumers Gail Gago said she was keen to remove red tape and contribute to Adelaide’s live music scene.

“My office and the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner have commenced discussions with representatives of the live music industry to explore options that will progress this agenda,” Gago said.

According to West End Association president Tanya Schroeder, the Liquor Licensing Act is full of anachronisms which stifle vibrancy and make life unnecessarily difficult for businesses.

“The rules on entertainment consent need to change because it needs to be easier for businesses, especially for bars, to be able to put on entertainment without having to worry about a complicated application process,” she told InDaily.

“(Businesses) pay for the entertainment –  so, to then have to apply and pay another fee to put on entertainment for the benefit of the community and the public realm … seems a little absurd.”

Schroeder acknowledged city residents may oppose deregulation because of possible noise disturbance, but said live entertainment was a consequence of living in the city.

“Move to the suburbs is you want a quieter life,” she said.

“Move to the city if you want some excitement.”

The association wants several restrictions removed from the Liquor Licensing Act, including:

READ MORE: When is a bar not a bar?

Operators who hire entertainment not allowed by their licence conditions face a maximum penalty of $10,000.

In 2012, Rory Bourke earned himself a $1,300 fine for hiring a troupe of samba drummers to perform outside his bar for three minutes.

For more than two years before he attracted the fine, Bourke had regularly hired the troupe to perform inside and out the front of his multicultural tapas lounge bar, Casablabla, in Leigh Street.

The drummers were asked to begin their performance on the footpath outside the bar so as not to shock indoor patrons as they ate their food.

“We wanted people to be captivated by different shows and the multicultural nature of our concept,” Bourke said.

“The idiocy of the situation was, had (the drummers) just been busking, they would have been fine to be there.

“But because we were paying them to be there, we got fined.

“That was a little bit hard to swallow for a while.”

Bourke was prohibited from hosting any live entertainment outside, including in the Casablabla beer garden, for around 18 months before he could get in front of the Liquor Licensing Commission.

The commission gave Bourke permission almost immediately.

“I think the area suffered as well during our that 18 month period … it created a low,” said Bourke.

“The commission dealt with us very, very swiftly, very ,very sensibly, very logically and they were almost a little bit stunned themselves as to why it was even before them.”

Bourke told InDaily the prohibition was particularly unfair on the drummers, whose performance time was cut by a third.

“(Samba drumming) is not something that’s particularly patronised or supported by other venues,” Bourke said.

“It’s a third of their potential wage gone and everyone else was benefiting from it for free.”

Bourke said he would like to see “draconianisms” removed from liquor licensing regulations, but said removing entertainment consent and licensing entirely would require careful consideration.

“That’s a big, big discussion,” he said.

InDaily contacted the South-East City Resident’s Association for comment.

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