Wagga publicans are driving change, banning trouble-makers precinct-wide and supplying aid to drought-stricken farmers.
The hoteliers and licensees of the city of around 54,000 banded together eight years’ ago to form the Wagga Liquor Accord.
They further undertook a ‘banned from one, banned from all’ initiative that has been praised by local authorities, and seen a noticeable reduction in anti-social incidents.
Over 170 people have now been banned for periods of three months to forever; Wagga police cite more than 70 lifers.
Any patrons engaging in undesirable behaviour are referred to the Joint Barred Committee, which decides if that person should be added to the list, and for how long. Barred persons are visited by local police and issued the Notice and a fine, and their details shared across most of the city’s businesses serving alcohol.
Underage teenagers attempting to gain entry to licensed premises are banned until their 19th birthday.
Liquor Accord chairman Sean O’Hara reports Maitland, Bathurst and Parkes are also considering initiating the scheme, due to its success.
Hay relief to Queensland
Owner of Wagga’s Red Steer Hotel Motel, Barbara Konstantakis, and husband Shane Bourke, have been making trips to drought-affected communities in Queensland for a few years.
The drought in central-western Queensland has stretched on for a decade, taking untold physical and mental toll on the farmers, their farms and families.
Konstantakis speaks sadly of meeting a fourth-generation farmer at a community get-together last year, whose father had left the house with the dog to round up the last of the family’s cattle, only to shoot the cattle, the dog and himself.
“That’s pretty raw, and made it very real,” she says. “We’re just lucky we’re in a position with work prior to buying the pub that we’ve been able to help.”
After taking over the Red Steer last August, armed with her new truck-driving licence Barb and Shane are driving a truckload of hay, over 30 bales, to help desperate properties.
The truck is being supplied by Hartwigs, the trailer by Ron Crouch Transport, Fareys Transport and a generous unnamed patron each donated $1,000 toward the fuel bill, likely to reach around $3,000, and Kenlock Lucen donated the hay itself.
Set for a two-day trip, they depart the morning of the 26th, entrusting the Hotel and busy trading day to their offspring, aged 20 to 28.
“We’re leaving the kids here to run the pub on Australia Day … it’s like putting them in a lolly shop,” she laughs. “They’ve got heaps of things planned.”
While the Red Steer is in Wagga’s northern outskirts, and not so prone to trouble-makers, Barb says they embrace the Wagga-wide banning system.
“We’re totally behind it. We support the liquor accord 100 per cent.”