Liquor Licensing

06 Apr 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on liquor licensing.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: There have been recent calls from industry for a new special type of licence to cover smaller end hospitality venues like wine bars. It has been put that this is a particularly popular venue for young business people, but they are unfortunately frustrated with the regulatory regime that exists in South Australia in that they are either required to apply for an entertainment licence, a hotel licence or special circumstances licence, which exceeds the requirements that are needed for the venue they are seeking to set up. Indeed, I note that the government's state strategic plan target T1.5 'Exceed Australia's ratio of business investment as a percentage of economy by 2014' was rated as 'negative movement' and 'unlikely' to be achieved in the 2010 progress report. My questions are:

1. What discussions, if any, has the minister had with stakeholders about the establishment of such a special licence?

2. Will the minister undertake a broader review of the liquor licensing structure to support such business investment in South Australia.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises) (14:56): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. Indeed, the ability for us to develop a diversity of different types of activities and venues across our CBD, but also our other entertainment areas, is critical to the vibrancy and also the safety of our city. We know that, if we have a diversity of different activities, then we are attracting a range of different types of clientele and also, if we have venues that operate at different times, they provide movement of people onto our streets and around our streets. We know that where there are crowds it can make our streets a much safer place to be in some respects. So we certainly look to attempting to promote different types of venues, and certainly small bars are part of that.

South Australia does not currently have a special licence class specifically for small bars; however, I am advised by the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner that a venue trading like a small bar can be covered by either, as the honourable member said, an entertainment venue licence, a hotel licence or a special circumstances licence depending on the sort of services that they intend to provide.

Hotel and entertainment licences are generally subject to certain provisions requiring things like either food or entertainment to be provided at times when alcohol is being served. The special circumstances licences do not have those types of restrictions and, instead, authorise the licensee to sell liquor for consumption in accordance with the terms and conditions of their licence, so there is a reasonable degree of flexibility around that type of licence.

While there is a process that must be followed when applying for any licence class—and these must be lodged with the Office of the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner—I am advised that it is a relatively straightforward and not necessarily onerous process on applicants. The process involves some set requirements and time frames and ensures that the integrity of the liquor licensing system is maintained. It also allows for other interested stakeholders. For instance, those people who may have residences nearby have an opportunity for input, the police have an opportunity for input, so other relevant stakeholders have an opportunity to have their say in what impact that licence might have on either their business or their amenity, and I think that is a very important type of natural justice process that should occur. But that is not necessarily a particularly onerous process.

The Liquor and Gambling Commissioner is committed to working collaboratively with applicants, licensees, local councils, South Australia Police, and obviously members of the community in licensing and regulating licensed premises in the state and ensuring that harm associated with liquor consumption is maintained. In terms of looking at those issues, I have met with Tim Horton, the Commissioner for Integrated Design, and we have had discussions around the importance of making sure that, if there are any barriers or impediments to our regulatory framework, we look at them to try to stimulate activity in our city centres, particularly with a mind to the diversification of the types of activities we conduct in our centres. I have certainly had discussions with him. My memory might fail me, but I believe that it is Renew SA—

The Hon. T.A. Franks: Renew Adelaide.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Renew Adelaide—thank you very much. I have met with them and had discussions about some of their ideas for streamlining processes. They have some absolutely marvellous initiatives and are certainly to be congratulated on the work they do. I have had very fruitful discussions with them; that information has been fed back to the agency, and I have asked them to consider those matters and to report back to me with any other proposals or suggestions they might have.

So, we are looking at these issues. We are very keen to make sure that our cities are vibrant and dynamic and have a range of entertainment for all different tastes and age groups. It is good for our cities, good for our economy and good for tourism. It is important that we keep looking at any possible impediments or barriers or any ways we might be able to improve and streamline processes to make the application processes for these venues simple and as easy as possible without forsaking adequate scrutiny and protections that are in place.