Liquor Licensing (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

I thank the member for Kaurna as the opposition spokesperson, and the members for Hammond, Florey and Waite for their contributions. I am always entertained by the member for Hammond's contribution. Can I say that I was recently in his electorate attending the opening of the racecourse. I think they could now bet on just about anything in his electorate they have so many different venues. It is a magnificent facility, and I commend him for his tireless advocacy to bring industry to his electorate.

I can say that I have attended the motorsport park, which, of course, has had a contribution by government but which is a project by the Shahin family. I attended a major event there at the invitation of the owners. I cannot say that I am a petrol head, but I handed awards to people who had been riding around on motorcycles. They looked like they were about to kill themselves, but nevertheless it is obviously a very exciting sport, and again I commend those, like this family, who have made a significant investment—in this particular case, in the member for Hammond's electorate.

To other members who have acknowledged liquor licensed outlets and venues in their electorates, I think it is important that we do acknowledge the industries that are regulated in relation to the sale of alcohol. Obviously, the hotels and their proprietors—the men and women of South Australia who operate these venues—play a very important role in both the distribution of alcohol and the provision of a pleasant and protected environment in which patrons can be entertained.

With that, there are parties who are providing services directly. There are outlets covered by stakeholders, such as Retail Drinks Australia and South Australian Independent Retailers. These are organisations, together with the SA Wine Industry Association and the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, that represent people in the industry who provide alcohol one way or another. We value the support of their members in the South Australian community and the economic and social benefit that they provide but, most importantly, when there is responsible regulation in relation to the sale and provision of alcohol everyone wins.

Some comment has been made about the concerns of the member for Kaurna and his apparent concern about the Liberal Party's failure to join in the vibrant investment of small bars in this state. I might remind him that, notwithstanding his claims of hostility, we have supported those in this industry.

Furthermore, the former attorney-general, who progressed reforms in this area to enable other licence options to be available to streamline the licensing regime for South Australia, was attorney-general from 2010. There was not even a review report until 2016 and then subsequent legislation. Quite frankly, if the former government really gave a toss about the advance of developing industries, including small bars in this state, they would have acted a lot more expeditiously, but they did not.

I might remind him that, when it came to having the review on lockout laws, not only did we have Mr Anderson's review but we had the valuable contribution made by the South Australian police, who are also a very important party in relation to any regulation we set because they are the enforcers. They are the investigators in relation to the adherence of this regulatory area. We were shielded from, or excluded from, even being able to see a copy of their submission.

For months, there was a refusal on the part of the former government to even show us that. When we eventually did see it, looking at the context, for example, on lockout laws—Mr Anderson's recommendation was that it was too early to make a determination about whether the lockout laws were successful or not—the very party that was probably closest and most important to the consideration and deliberations of this parliament ultimately was the view of the South Australian police, and that submission was kept hidden from us.

After a public outcry, eventually the former government did make it available for us to see and it did suggest, according to them, that only a short period had elapsed since the introduction and that therefore, in their view, further time needed to elapse. Mr Anderson picked that up. On this side of the house, we think that everyone in the parliament needs to be able to have that matter before them for the purposes of considering these reviews.

I am appalled at the approach the former government took on this, so please, member for Kaurna, do not come in here and start preaching to us about the failings on behalf of the opposition in relation to the advance of practical and important reforms in liquor licensing regulation. We have been at the table all the time. We are happy to advance it. Ultimately, seven years into the life of the former attorney-general, we finally got a bill passed through this parliament, so please do not lecture us about advancing something and having some passion.

Nevertheless, the bill passed. The one key area of decision to be considered on the recommendations of Mr Anderson was a new fee structure in line with the fact that there would be a streamlining of different licences that would apply under the new regime. The former attorney decided that that would be kicked down the road. As the Premier said today in question time, it was one of many decisions the previous government kicked under the rug and did not deal with.

Well, we have dealt with it and consistent with that, as was announced in the budget this year, we have adopted a regime of fees which is actually less than the recommendation of Mr Anderson in his report and which has been assiduously looked at and consulted on by the commissioner, Mr Soulio, with the relevant parties to work through a regime to enable the implementation of that structure in November this year for new parties coming into the industry and some time next year for existing licensees.

That is what the reality is. In the course of that long process, the commissioner in particular has identified a number of areas that need to be clarified and/or considered because either it is not appropriate that they be in regulation and/or they have been overlooked in relation to the preparation of the reforms in this area, and, secondly, some of the aspects that have been picked up that were not advanced otherwise in relation to the Anderson review.

This is an important piece of legislation. It is not tinkering with technical and miscellaneous amendments. There are substantial amendments in this bill. I think that it is important that the member for Kaurna appreciate the significance of this legislation and why we are needing to finish off a job that should have been dealt with by the previous government but which, yet again, we have been left to tidy up.

Can I place on the record that Mr Driller Jet Armstrong has been to see me and the commissioner; in fact, I have employed his services. I have actually never been to his establishment, he was disappointed to hear me say, but I have actually employed his services over the years for my own functions.

 I can categorically say that Driller is very competent in relation to his provision of music services for the events that he attended at my request, but I do not know the details of his establishment. As a result of that meeting, we certainly have put in place discussions with the commissioner, who I think was present at that meeting as well, to assist Mr Armstrong to consider how he might better structure his business—which is entirely his matter—so that he might attract a significantly lower fee.

These matters have been discussed and, as I understand it, they are still being canvassed. So, please, member for Kaurna, pick up some little piece out of a headline if you like, but when you come into the parliament make sure you have the full facts before you start casting those sort of aspersions.

Vibrant SA, as I am advised by my excellent adviser, has of course been raised also as a stakeholder. It was, frankly, a body that was around to represent late-night venues after the announcement and fee changes, but it is defunct and it does not even have a website anymore. Again, it is fairly important for all of the members to keep up to speed with what is actually happening out there in relation to this space.

There was a matter specifically raised as to the fees that operate in the bill. I am happy to refer to this in committee if it is preferable, but I just remind the member that, yes, on clause 12, which deals with short-term licences, the bill allows for these to have an annual fee. In a statute, we need to make the law before we implement the regulation.

For the benefit of other members, I would have thought that this would be obvious to the member, given that he has been a member of cabinet, and that he would know that the regulations would not be prepared and decided upon before the act occurs and has had the assent of the Governor post parliamentary passage. But, just in case he has forgotten, our government does things in the right order, notwithstanding the practices of the previous government, who I remember gazetting the names of people who were going to be on natural resources management boards before we had even passed the act.

There are certain standards that other governments have had. That is not the standard of this government. This government does it in the right order. We respect the parliament and I can advise the house that we have not, as a government, made any determination or asked for the preparation of regulations in relation to short-term licences prior to the assent, of course, under this legislation. I hope that clarifies the matter; otherwise, I am happy to answer any other questions in committee. I thank the member for Florey for her contribution. I have been provided with a copy of the amendment that she has tabled today, and I will refer to that in committee.