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Live music industry hits accord with State Government

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Live music venues have made some progress in their efforts to soften the application of liquor licensing laws through the signing of an accord with the State Government.

The signing of the accord with the State Government has been seen to be a response to the heavily publicised closure of The Tote in Collingwood and other live music venues as a consequence of increased costs arising from the obligation to comply with enhanced crowd control requirements under venue liquor licenses.

The live music industry, represented by the groups FairGo4LiveMusic, SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music) and Music Victoria, signed an accord with Premier John Brumby on 22 February 2010. Under this accord the State Government has committed to recommending to the Director of Liquor Licensing that:

  1. Crowd controller conditions will not automatically be applied to new live music venues;
  2. Crowd controller conditions only be applied to venues if recommended by Victoria Police as a condition of planning approval or because of past breaches of liquor laws; and
  3. The Director of Liquor Licensing reverse blanket crowd controller requirements placed on venues in the past 12 months upon request from affected venues provided Victoria Police raise no objections.

While the accord represents a positive show of support for hotels and other venues operating as live music venues, the accord does not have any binding force on the Director of Liquor Licensing.  The Director of Liquor Licensing is empowered under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (‘the Act’) to impose any conditions considered appropriate on a liquor license and is not required to follow recommendations made by the State Government in the imposition of such conditions.

The accord does not address additional security requirements required under liquor licences applicable to non-live music venues that have affected a number of hotels across Victoria.  Requirements for security camera use in all venues also remain unaffected by the accord.

The Act contains provisions for the ability of licensees to seek review of a decision of the Director of Liquor Licensing at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).  Venues that have been affected by increased security requirements under their liquor license should accordingly take advantage of opportunities for review arising from the State Government accord and the Act itself.

For further information please contact a lawyer from our Hospitality Group

Author: Katie Sweatman