Producer's Licences

27 Sep 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on the subject of producer's licences.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government is introducing an annual licence fee for all liquor licence holders so that it can engage in so-called cost recovery for administration of liquor licensing. Thus far we have not been able to get a final answer on what the fee regime will be, except that there will be a base tax of between $500 to $1,000, with an additional tax of $3,000 for premises which trade after 2am.

I note in the debate on the Statutes Amendment (Budget 2011) Bill that Treasurer Snelling stated the following:

We are structuring the fees so that the greatest burden will be imposed on those licensed premises that cost us the most to regulate by virtue of their size, ability to pay and the fact that they trade late.

One of my constituents who is a holder of a producer's licence contacted me after receiving a letter from liquor licensing. The letter is about the licensee making a contribution to the late-night trading levy. However, my constituent states in this email:

 ...does have a producer's licence, but our winery is only small ('boutique'), we sell only to a private list and not through any commercial outlet, we do not have wine tastings or cellar door, and we are certainly not in any way involved in a situation where late hours trading would be an issue for us.

Can the minister advise whether the government has done costings to determine how much the compliance costs are for producer licensees, and under what circumstances will holders of producer's licences be granted exemptions from the additional fees?

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, Minister for Gambling) (15:04): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. Indeed, this government has sought and achieved major reforms in the area of liquor licensing. As we have seen, problems associated with alcohol-related harm is on the increase. We see some terrible incidents happening in our streets. We have seen over the years a pattern of deregulation of our liquor licensing laws as trading hours have increased and other changes have occurred over the years. Although that has had some positive effects on our community, it has also had some very negative effects, and we have seen some of those recently in our newspapers and often witnessed by members.

So, we know that alcohol related harm costs Australians billions and billions of dollars every year, and this government was prepared to make some tough decisions. We took this head on and proposed a raft of changes, and many that were successful in passing this house. Of course, we know that the opposition failed to support a very fundamental plank of that reform, which was trading hours, where we know that there is a direct correlation between alcohol related harm and trading hours. However, they were just too gutless to take that on, too gutless. They were prepared to support the traders' interests against those of the broader South Australian—so be it. Shame on them. Absolutely, shame on them.

In relation to liquor licensing fees, that was one of the reforms instigated, and that was about increasing the regulatory and compliance contributions from some traders. That is about ensuring that the industry as a whole makes an increased contribution to the costs associated with compliance and regulation. Some analysis was done, and it showed that South Australians were in fact subsidising compliance and regulatory costs. We were having to subsidise basically out of revenue—

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Well, I was asked about costings. I am telling you about the costings.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: For producer's licences.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I am talking about costings, Mr President.


The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Very specific.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: They ask a question. I am happy to answer.

The PRESIDENT: Very good.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Just because the answer requires something more than one syllable means that some of those across me find that too complicated. They can't concentrate.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: No. We know all that.

The PRESIDENT: The minister should refrain from arousing the opposition.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you for your guidance, Mr President. As I said, a position was reached where we said that there should be an industry-wide contribution to the cost recovery. That should be attempted to be shared broadly to try to bring the burdens down but also focus on issues where the most problems were occurring, so we tried to balance both of those aspects. Those that trade the longest pay the highest amount of fee, and I understand that the details of the actual costings have not been reached. Treasury is in fact, I understand, dealing with those final details. As I said, the costings were done on what the regulatory and compliance costs were, and the aim of the fee being struck was an attempt to have a cost recovery for the compliance and regulatory burdens around liquor licensing.

The costs were done (if I recall, Mr President) overall. We know that right across the industry, and we know that, in some respects, the whole industry really needs to make some sort of contribution towards that because it all has some effect in the long term. However, those contributing the largest components are obviously going to be expected to bear a much greater part of that levy burden.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:10): I have a supplementary question arising from the answer. Is the minister saying, therefore, that a holder of a producer's licence which does not even have a cellar door or a commercial outlet is somehow contributing to alcohol-related violence?

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, Minister for Gambling) (15:10): The harmful effects of alcohol should be borne by the whole of the industry in some way or other; however, we recognise that the larger contributions should be burdened by those responsible, or those that are active in those parts of the industry. So, we have tried to strike a balance, if you like, between those different components.

In relation to exemptions, my understanding is that there will be access to exemptions and they will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and all relevant matters relating to that outlet (particularly those matters going to risk) will be considered.