I am pleased to make a submission on the Draft Liquor Amendment 24-hour Economy Bill 2020 on behalf of inner west business owners in the Summer Hill electorate.
As you will know, the Inner West is a vital cultural and nightlife hub in Sydney’s night-time economy. Ensuring that the inner west can expand its unique and diverse night-time economy while ensuring public safety is of deep importance to many business owners, hospitality workers, and patrons in the Summer Hill electorate.
COVID 19 has had a devastating impact on the inner west night-time economy. Scores of local hospitality workers are out of work and many venues have been struggling to remain open and financially viable during this pandemic.
According to the COVID 19 Financial Impact Index, the Summer Hill electorate is one of the most financially impacted areas by the pandemic, with a 70-80 percent decline in revenue and above-average employment in hospitality and creative arts sectors.
While the measures outlined in the draft legislation do remove much need red tape for small bars and live music venues brought about during the Lockout Laws period, it does not go far enough to address the current crisis many small businesses find themselves in due to COVID 19.
This submission is made in consultation with live music venues, small bars and creative industries in the Summer Hill electorate, who welcome many of the changes brought forward in the draft bill but are calling for more to be done to support the sector post-COVID 19.
There raise the following issues with the proposed legislation:
- The new demerit points system treats every venue the same regardless of size;
- The consolidation of 7 government agencies into 3 for the monitoring of noise complaints is still 2 too many;
- The bill addresses the issues plaguing the NSW night-time economy before COVID 19 and does little to address the current economic situation many in the sector find themselves in;
- There is little legislative support for councils included in the draft legislation who are key stakeholders in the sector;
- The legislation is heavily focused on the regulation of alcohol but does little to improve the diversity and support for the arts, music, and cultural sectors in the night-time economy.
Suggested measures by Summer Hill stakeholders include
1. Remove the inconsistencies around security requirements for small bars.
“There is currently no consistency relating to the requirement of security guards across different venues in Marrickville. For instance, a venue with a capacity of 250 people with live music is only required to have a door guard on Friday and Saturday nights- this has been a recent change. While other small venues with a 40-60person capacity and no live music are required to have guards Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, despite no serious incidents at these venues. The cost of security to small bars being around $25000 a year.” Small bar owner- Marrickville
2. Allow the continued sale of takeaway alcohol from venues a provision allowed during COVID 19 which should continue and be incorporated into the regulatory framework for same-day alcohol delivery
“There is no mention in the current legislation which operated during COVID 19 which allowed the sale of takeaway alcohol from venues and whether this practice will be allowed to continue post-COVID.” Small bar owner- Marrickville
3. Venues should not be penalised for violence that occurs near their establishment
“Venues should not be penalised for violence near them, venues should not be penalised for doing the right thing and removing the aggressive person, this should not be marked against them. This discourages venues from calling the police as they know it will go on their record. The perpetrators should take all responsibility, not the licensed venue they were last at, or said they were at or happen to be nearby.” -Live music operator Marrickville
4. Venues with demerit points should not incur higher fees for the renewal of their annual liquor licence
“Charging higher fees for venues that incur demerit points unfairly punishes the venue twice for the original breach and then the annual fee. Many venues cannot afford the time or money to go to court and fight the demerit point.” Live music operator Marrickville
5. Invest in growing the arts and culture sector in NSW by investing in and subsidising the cost of Government-owned community spaces for musicians and artists to use.
“The government and local councils should look into developing a program similar to the Brand X and 107 model which allows artists to rent out performance spaces at a heavily subsided rate allowing artists to be able to promote their skills and work.” Independent Theatre Company operator- Marrickville
I request that the included submissions by Summer Hill business owners be considered by Liquor and Gaming members in relation to the Draft Liquor Amendment 24-hour Economy Bill 2020.
Jo Haylen MP
Member for Summer Hill