LIQUOR FUNCTION LICENCES
(Lismore) [4.45 p.m.]: Tonight I bring to the attention of honourable members the fact that liquor function licences are not being issued. As the Lismore electorate is now approaching show season, show societies and other sporting bodies will be requiring liquor function licences. These bodies have been told by the Licensing Court of New South Wales:
Applicants should now consider approaching an hotelier to apply for an extension of hotelier’s licence under Section 18(6) of the Liquor Act, 1982. This allows the hotelier to cater for a function off premises. Alternately the function would have to be "BYO".
Unfortunately, as a past licensee of a hotel I know that this will create big problems for any hotel licensee seeking to extend his or her licence for a show in a local area. Anyone extending his or her licence will be responsible to ensure that licensing laws are implemented. Applications of that sort will impact on the Government’s harm minimisation provisions and affect the responsible control and supply of alcohol at such venues. Show societies and other bodies in the Lismore area could face a loss in annual liquor sales of well in excess of $60,000.
Show societies in Lismore, Nimbin and other areas are currently waiting to receive function licences to enable them to serve alcohol at shows or other festivals. If this dispute continues, the Lismore music festival and other regional festivals in the area are likely to be affected. I spoke earlier to the Minister for Gaming and Racing and I am pleased to see that he is in the Chamber. People are not aware of the effect of industrial action on small communities. Work bans would continue while members’ concerns about funding and staff cuts remain. We are aware that the bans are impacting on communities.
They are over.
They are over? I am able to achieve results! It did not take long!
They’ve been over for 24 hours.
I compliment the Minister. Perhaps I should take the credit!
It is called the Industrial Commission.
I am proud to think that in four minutes I have succeeded in solving this problem! I thank the Minister.
(Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [4.50 p.m.]: The Agricultural Societies Council is concerned about the requirements for function licences. In 1997-98 the council raised two concerns about function licences. The first related to Licensing Court harm minimisation requirements for functions. The concern arose partly from incorrect information sheets and application forms being provided to function applicants. The issue was subsequently dealt with by me and the department, and new forms and correct information is now available. In fact, I visited several locations in the country about this matter.
The second issue related to local police requirements for functions. At that time it was the policy of some local police to indicate that they would not object to a function application so long as the applicant agreed to certain conditions. Those conditions often dealt with the provision of security guards, restricted trading hours and enclosing the licensed area. Some local police still require these conditions for functions. It is obvious there are instances of overzealousness, which I will take up with the Minister for Police. In response to those concerns, the Director of Liquor and Gaming wrote to all regional and local area commands in April 1998 - obviously it did not to get through to them or they did not read it - with advice on dealing with function applications in a reasonable and responsible manner.
I furnished that letter today to the Agricultural Societies Council. The department is not aware of any widespread concerns about the requirements of local police relating to function licences. If honourable members have had instances of this, I am happy to deal with them. It is important to note that the new function laws commenced on 1 April this year. Those laws clearly define the responsibilities of function licensees and make non-proprietary associations responsible for the conduct of their functions. They also included changes to the application process, for example, by extending the application time to 28 days. I have made available copies of that legislation bulletin to all honourable members. If they did not receive a copy or did not see it, I shall forward them another. I am sure, having today had meaningful dialogue with the Agricultural Societies Council, I can overcome many of their long-term problems. I compliment the council on seeing me and on being able to resolve some of these problems. The strike is over.