DOUBLE GLAZING WOULD HAVE SOLVED EVERYTHING.
It has been a great passion, and pleasure, of ours to be a conversation partner with you all in the debate about liquor licensing reform and small venue licenses.
Let’s go right back to VIBRATORS, Renew Adelaide’s forum that kick started the conversation about small venue license reform. There were many an invested person in attendance that night including one Ian Horne, General Manager of the Australian Hotels Association South Australia. Ian was offered the chance the stand up and speak on the night…
(apologies for audio quality)
It was positive to note that Ian saw “no particular conflict” with the implementation of a small venue license. Also noteworthy was the seemingly placing of the blame upon the shoulders of local government.
Next, I suppose, came this opinion piece by the Advertisers David Penberthy entitled: How the hotel lobby is wrecking our city
In it Penberthy describes the AHA, and Ian Horne as it’s head, as a major obstacle in the implementation of a small venue license, citing the oldest of all the motives: greed. Liquor licenses are a sacred thing in this state, and worth a whole lot of money. The more liquor licenses that are granted, the less one’s license is relatively worth. Not to mention the competing interests of attracting the drinking consumer. Penberthy does note that the likelihood of any real competition is minimal, as small bars would cater to a niche that wouldn’t derive from the stalwart pub drinker. Penberthy also laments the seeming loss of actual pub culture, cleared away for the pokie.
Ian Horne quickly responded with a letter to the editor that you can find here
It is clear that Penberthy wrote an impassioned piece that could well have done with some fact checking. What is interesting to note is that the AHA’s policy is they “are not yet convinced that current liquor laws can’t accommodate that outcome with some tweaking” in reference to encouraging small venues. Again the AHA places a chunk of the blame upon local government.
The AHA released a information booklet entitled Raising the Bar Ignores Reality, which you can find here. It contains some of the dubious statistics that Penberthy talks about in his piece, as well as a direct attack on the Raise the Bar movement launched by John Wardle at the Small Venue Licenses forum.
After the VIBRATORS forum we spoke with both the Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, who bizarrely spoke of golden taps, and the Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill. Asked about whether he agreed with the Penberthy article, the Premier responded “To the extent that our liquor licensing laws are preventing small bars and small organisations like arts and other culture groups, live venues from getting a foot hold in the city, they need to change. I agree with his analysis”. Mr Weatherill went on to state that he “didn’t beleive the hotels lobby have anything to fear from this”, in reference to liquor licensing reform.
That same night the Premier announced a last Thinker in Residence to tackle the live music scene, which would encompass liquor licensing, building code, environmental code and music infrastructure.
All well and good.
But it was time to hear another point of view. The Scenery invited General Manager of the AHA Ian Horne onto the show to tell us his point of view of the liquor licensing reform debate. To his credit, Ian immediately replied and booked in a date for a live chat on the show.
Like with the Premier we decided to section the show into particular topics.
Firstly, in light of the Crown and Sceptre closure, and the going into administration of the Dublin, Holdfast and Talbot hotels, was there a problem with the current hotel culture that has seen a reduction in patronage?
Secondly, in the 90s and early 2000s the Producers, Tivoli, Austral and Exeter were all pubs integral to the live music scene. Apartment blocks went up around all of them, noise complaints were made and live music was severely reduced or cut all together. The Tivoli sat vacant for some time before eventually being renovated into a trendy professionals bar; the Producers went through a handful of owners and a handful of names and now has sat empty for some months, if not over a year; the Austral tried to set up a club in the backroom which failed, and now has no live music; the Exeter continues to have live music in the squashed front section of the pub, but regularly receives noise complaints. What can be done, either legislatively or politically, to prevent these common sense issues from being detrimental to existing, live music venues?
And finally, what is the opinion of the AHA when it comes to liquor licensing reform in regards to small bars and venues.
A polite conversation was had by all, with some off the record insight that gave a little more heart to the matter. Noticeably the common thread of blame in the eyes of the AHA, in terms of the struggle to obtain small venue license, seems to continually lie with local government.
It is no surprise that an organisation that represents hundreds or more hotels around the state, which represents hundreds of millions of dollars, would be defensive when talk of something that may weaken their market share is spruiked. To the credit of the AHA, though, they seem to want to be part of the conversation, perhaps recognising the inevitability of it all. In this cynics opinion though, there are many forms of easier revenue raising for pubs and the AHA then the unprofitable struggle of lobbying for live music.
What is a beer without a good chat? What is a glass of wine without a wanky conversation about where it was grown, and the shit art that’s hanging up in front of you? What’s tequila without the tapas to soak it up? And what the fuck is a pub without a sweaty, stinking shit band that can’t play. The fucking Havelock.
This week’s feature song was going to be Old Fool, as performed by Matt Banham and Summerflake, but those arseholes didn’t allow it to be streamed from their bandcamp. But we’re good chaps, so here’s The Real Thing by Summerflake.