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Of the 332 liquor licence applications received
between July 2008 and June 2009, the Executive
Director of Public Health investigated 223 and
lodged 45 "interventions", 15 of which objected
to the licence altogether. While none of these
objections were to small bars, he has objected to
extended trading hours for small bars where "the
alcohol-related harm statistics in the immediate
vicinity of the venues in question were high".
Police Commissioner Karl O Callaghan has
been vocal about alcohol-related problems in
Northbridge. He has cautioned against granting
more liquor licences and is opposed to extending
existing trading arrangements.
In response to police concerns, the director
of liquor licensing introduced reduced opening
hours, early lock-outs and stricter trading restric-
tions on Perth nightclubs over summer.
Gimmicks such as free drinks, two-for-one deals,
shooters and slammers are not allowed. Nor are
alcoholic sprays or ice blocks. Free drinking water
must always be available and managers and licensees
can be fined up to $10,000 for serving drunks.
The Ryan s licence for the Empyrean also requires
that they get a list of every guest at a function, check
guest ID s and stop serving drinks by 10pm.
Anthony Hilton s licence for his Oceans One
bar on the beachfront in Scarborough stipulates
that patrons have to have room to sit down and
may not wear singlets nor thongs after 7pm. He
had to install CCTV, serve hot food at all times
and has tight restrictions on the type of music he
can play and staff he must employ.
"The degree of supervision over licensed
premises is increasing," says Dan. "All these things
are contrary to -- and conflict with -- the small bar
concept, as distinct from the traditional drinking
In 2008, Dan formed the Small Bar Associa-
tion to lobby state and local governments to try to
make the process of getting and retaining a small
bar licence easier.
Jonathon Larkin, from Raise the Bar, a lobby
group aimed at making similar changes to Sydney s
drinking environment, says Sydney is experienc-
ing much the same resistance from health officials
and councils and what he calls a "moral element in
policing". Rather than a small bar revolution, he
says Sydney is experiencing a small bar evolution.
"But when a small bar is well run in the com-
munity, it provides an example of the normalisa-
tion of drinking, of just having a drink or two, just
like you d have a coffee in a cafe or restaurant," he
says. "It has not been in our culture, we go out and
have 10 (drinks) if we are going to do it properly ,
rather than a culture of drinking in moderation."
Tony van Merwyk, also a liquor licensing
lawyer of many years standing, says the police and
licensing authorities need to clearly identify the
licensees whose patrons cause problems time and
again and target them.
"It appears from the press and from personal
experience that the small bars we now have open
have not contributed to anti-social behaviour in
any significant way."
Bradley Woods, executive director of the Aus-
tralia Hotels Association WA Branch, says only a
tiny percentage of people who go to Northbridge
cause problems. Licensees had no legal right to
take action against people on the street or footpath
outside their premises.
In fact, the laws actually stipulate that before a
bouncer kicks someone out of licensed premises,
they must get written permission from the licensee
The Ryans point out that the fact that so many
people flock to Northbridge on Friday and Sat-
urday nights looking for late-night entertainment
is a question of supply and demand. Cutting off
supply, James says, won t stop demand.
He suggests allowing suburban pubs to stay open
longer or granting more licences on a provisional
basis. "If they have more licensed venues within an
entertainment areas, they can raise the standards of
control and competition," Patrick says.
But rather than tackle the hard cases, many
people complained to Scoop that the police were
far too over-zealous with soft targets -- fining a
restaurant-owner for standing on his step with a
glass of wine or when a patron accidentally strayed
onto a footpath with a beer -- saddling small
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