Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents 84 SCOOP AUTUMN 2010
building codes to allow some of the city s old build-
ings to be used for small bars.
And then there are the neighbours. The City of
Vincent has knocked back a few small bars because
of residents concerns about parking and anti-social
behaviour. Lawyer Paul Fowler s plans to open a
cosy bar in Wembley fell foul of Cambridge Coun-
cil after neighbours opposed it. The council wanted
him to find 30 parking bays for his 90 patrons.
He ended up having to go to the State Admin-
istrative Tribunal and finally got his licence for The
Stanley on the condition that he had no live music
and encouraged staff and patrons to take public
transport. His licence even stipulates the type of
furniture he should have.
Murray McHenry, for years the proprietor of
the iconic Steve s Hotel in Nedlands, eventually
closed down his pub after years of complaints from
neighbours and now operates a much smaller bar
on the site. These days the law requires that three
separate neighbours make a complaint before
authorities will review a licence.
And then there are the vested interests. A liquor
licence has been a licence to print money and
those lucky enough to have one have fought hard
over the years to maintain their value by seeing off
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has
become one of the most powerful and effective
lobby groups in the state.
It fought hard against proposals put forward in
2005/6 to loosen up WA s licensing environment
to small bars and the like.
Bradley says this was both to ensure that
standards for the safe serving of alcohol were not
compromised and that his existing members -- the
state s hotel, resort and tavern licence-holders --
were not put at an unfair disadvantage by having
a new category of licensees who did not have to
comply to the same conditions as they did.
He says initial proposals for the small bar licence,
for example, had no cap on the number of patrons
that could be served, no rules on crowd density and
no requirements for local government approvals.
"There were no checks and balances in place,"
he says. "There would have been an explosion of
new bars, costing nothing, wiping out the value
of existing licences. We were calling for an equal
Bradley believes the eventual outcomes were
fair for everyone and says his organisation now
represents many small bars.
"Small bars were able to open and operate
under reasonable regulations and licensing condi-
tions, but not so loose that they undermined the
existing licences," he says.
He rejects the notion that getting through
liquor licensing is particularly difficult or onerous.
He contends that many lawyers have made a good
living shepherding applicants through a process
that he says is pretty straightforward.
Several of the successful applicants for small
bars have gone without lawyers. Bradley says
anyone who did their homework properly should
be able to comply, he says, and 90 percent of cases
should be able to easily address requirements of
the public interest assessment.
While Murray McHenry believes the days of
the big pub are over, Bradley says it is important
to have a wide range of drinking establishments to
cater for the needs of all drinkers.
"But there still need to be venues for young
Australians to learn about being adults and con-
suming alcohol in a responsible manner," he says.
Kate Lamont says without "contemporising"
our rules and regulations -- at all levels of govern-
ment -- we risk not only our own enjoyment but
that of tourists as well.
"They are serious constraints to the organic
growth of the conviviality and vibrancy which is ac-
tually about delivering on WA s marketing promise
as a destination," she says. "You might not be able
to get a drink, but you know the toilets are beautiful
and we have lots of car parking bays for you." sm
STOP PRESS As Scoop went
to press Treasurer Troy Buswell
released Reducing the Burden, a
report by the Red Tape Reduction
Group with several recommenda-
tions to streamline liquor licens-
ing including processing licence
applications without requiring
council approval first and allowing
applications for extended trading
permits at the same time. It also
recommended proper guidelines
on preparing public interest assess-
ments. All applications should be
dealt with within six months and the
"excessively risk averse" approach
better balanced with the proper
development of facilities. It calls
for a comprehensive independ-
ent review of the liquor industry's
regulatory regime. The government
is yet to respond to the report.
RACING, Gaming and
Liquor Terry Waldron
says he is a strong
supporter of small bars.
"I believe small bars
offer new, exciting and
safer alternatives for
consumers," he says.
"The May 2007 reforms,
particularly the introduction of the small bar
licence, were intended to provide more flex-
ibility and choice for consumers, while at the
same time encouraging lower-risk drinking
environments with an increased focus on the
responsible service of alcohol."
But he says the reform package did not
have an easy passage through parliament with
concerns that a possible "explosion" of new
small bars and restaurants serving alcohol
without a meal, would lead to negative health
and business impacts.
But he says the current pace of change
showed that a good balance had been struck
between the demand for bars and the con-
cerns about them.
"I think the policy settings have succeeded
in getting this balance right. I believe we have
an orderly and sustainable development of
the small bar market, with an average of one
new small bar per month approved since the
legislation was introduced.
"There is no doubt that some local govern-
ment authorities have struggled with the small
bar concept and how it fits into existing town
planning schemes but we have also had enthu-
siastic and vocal supporters of the category at
local government level."
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