Sandra Creagh from the SMH wrote:
Rhythm and booze: we'll drink to that
January 11, 2007
IF MELBOURNE is red wine and soft music, Sydney is beer and a band. But if proposed changes in the NSW Liquor Act are passed, Sydney could experience a proliferation of quaint, hole-in-the-wall jazz joints operating under their own special licence.
"The great thing about the [proposed] live music liquor licence is it would be available for cafes and restaurants. It's for people who want to have a piano in the corner while people have a drink," said John Wardle, a jazz guitarist who has been leading the campaign.
At present, a piano and booze combination would require a nightclub licence, costing up to $60,000. Under the proposed changes, the licence fee would drop to about $2500, Mr Wardle said. "In Europe and Latin America, and every other state in Australia, they take this for granted. It's just NSW where it's expensive and complex," he said.
The bill is expected to reach Parliament after the state election, and has the support of the Premier, Morris Iemma.
"That bill is still under development and it will depend on the outcome of the forthcoming elections, but the Premier remains committed," a spokesman for Mr Iemma said yesterday.
The proposals were being looked at as part of a broad rewrite of liquor laws that began in 2005, said a spokesman for the Gaming and Racing Minister, Grant McBride. "There will be a special category of liquor licence for live music operators when the final bill is crafted," he said. He refused to say how much the licence would cost.
The Arts Minister, Bob Debus, is also for the proposed change. "We think it's a great thing. Anything that can enrich our culture, provide jobs for musicians and provide entertainment to people is something we are for," a spokesman for the minister said.
But the NSW president of the Australian Hotels Association, John Thorpe, said the proposals were just "pie in the sky stuff".
"And if it did happen, the effect it would have on our industry would be fairly substantial. It would hurt. I don't know if the Government has considered compensation for these sorts of things," he said.
Mr Wardle said the new licence would mean more jobs for musicians. "When the hotels got sport and pokies, they dropped us. This is our chance," he said. "If you are a musician and get a gig you have to be a pub band. There's no chance for the rest of us."
Gino Soglimbene, whose Balmain Italian restaurant Stars at Gigi's has been in the family for 20 years, said he often turned away musicians because his restaurant did not have the right licence.
"They want to play, but we have to say no," he said. "It would be good to have gentle, relaxing background music or on the weekend I wouldn't mind a DJ for parties."
No surprises that the AHA is not in favour of this.
I cannot believe the NSW Government has seen this much sense. Won't stop me voting for Debnam but damnit it's a good move.
I've said this before but a lot of pubs sh*t me in the way that they seem to cater exclusively for the gambler. The stringent licensing laws meant that the general public was not completely able to vote with their feet when they wanted to go out and have a drink. These laws will help immensely.