Will licensing and common sense ever be friends?

The West Australian opposition has come out in support of “common sense” in determining licensing issues, as authorities continue a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach.

As international demand for Australian mining products slows, so too has the excitement over the so-called ‘boom’ that began two decades ago toward the end of the Keating Labor Government’s rein.

West Australia, the acknowledged State of mining, has undergone tremendous expansion in the past decade, but now stands nervously on an economic precipice and has recently triumphed a new era for tourism to one of the world’s most remote destinations.

Fantastic – there is an incredible array of natural wonder in West Australia. And multi-billion dollar developments are currently being rolled out for key areas of Perth and its surrounds.

But new roads, transport and 5-Star hotels are only going to sit idle if these initiatives don’t bring the kind of diversity that globe-trotting tourists want. More than just casinos and luxury accommodation, there must be entertainment and exciting places to eat and drink.

Herein lies the conflict: the desire to change with the times is stymied by the inability to cope with rapid change.

WA’s Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan, has called on the police and the Director of Public Health to end the policy of automatically objecting to new liquor licenses, insisting reform is vital to creating more hospitality, tourism and music industry jobs.

McGowan says he wants to change the law to give tourism bodies equal standing to police and health authorities in licensing determinations, and gone further to suggest a new category in public interest assessments that takes into account a venue’s tourism, community and cultural benefits.

WA’s Premier Colin Barnett talked down the suggestions, responding that tourism “will not have an equal say”. Barnett demonstrated his intimate understanding of the needs of the modern tourist by suggesting the State already had enough venues.

“I don’t think there is any sense of a lack of access to cafes, bars, restaurants.”

Many of these new licenses are for venues that are obviously menaces to society, such as the 5-Star Treasury Hotel, which was denied a 24-hour license due to potential for alcohol-related violence, or the underground jazz bar that was certain to become a late-night haunt for shiraz-sipping bikies.

The situation is reminiscent of staying with that cranky Aunt or family friend when you were a kid – you know, the one that said “No!” to everything before you’d even finished asking.

“Please, may I have a delicious beverage, like I have at home (or in any civilised society)?”

“No,” says the figure of authority.


Your thoughts on the matter are always welcome.

Clyde Mooney – pub media die-hard



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