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‘Archaic’ liquor licence conditions abolished in NSW

Liquor and Gaming NSW have announced that ‘archaic’ live entertainment conditions have been removed from the licences of more than 30 venues since May last year.

After the Parliamentary Inquiry into Music in 2018, the NSW State Government said they were committed to boosting the vibrancy of the state’s night time economy and supporting live entertainment.

As part of this action, Liquor and Gaming NSW last year offered a three month period of free assessments to licensees, to remove or vary outdated or irrelevant licence conditions surrounding live entertainment.

And now, with more than 30 successful venues across the state since then and Sydney lock out laws recently rolled back, there’s increased hope that NSW’s nightlife is taking further steps towards its recovery.  It’s also encouraging for the future of the bar industry and live entertainment artists in the state.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello described some of the restrictions that were axed for venues, often included in Development Consents from local councils.

“Many of these conditions were imposed decades ago in another era, but serve no purpose at all today,” he said.

Examples include “no rock bands to be engaged after 1 August 1982” at Bexley North Hotel, no rock bands or groups bigger than three people at Northies Cronulla Hotel and only old-time dance bands on a Friday night at Toukley RSL.

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the removal of these types of restrictions gave licensees more freedom to support live music and boost the night time economy.

“The changes mean some venues can now host gigs for the first time in many years, while others can offer a broader range of music styles. It’s great news for both fans and performers of live music,” Ayres said.

Local industry reactions

One successful venue revealed in the announcement was Petersham’s Oxford Tavern, who had a clause removed to cease live entertainment at 11:30pm.

James Thorpe, Group General Manager and Director for Thorpe Hospitality who operate the Oxford Tavern, said they’re hopeful the recent changes for the city and the state in general will mean good things for local businesses and communities.

Thorpe said: “Very recently there has been a shift in Government sentiment in the right direction. We are, hopefully, moving toward a more balanced regulatory and compliance environment, where the needs of local artists and businesses are held up equally to neighbourhood amenity, or even seen as a feature of a thriving neighbourhood – we can only hope!”

“This makes us more likely to spend in that area. We aren’t going to commit to regular band nights, for example, if every time a guitar is strummed, we have visions of testifying at the Land and Environment Court. The more common-sense approach the Government seems to be taking is good for artists, good for local business and good for the community.”

The Australian Hotel Association NSW Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green, said the organisation is also pleased to see more common-sense decisions by the Government.

“The put it simply, pub music should not be restricted on genre… If you live next to a pub, or move close to one, there should be a reasonable expectation that you are likely to hear music and people enjoying themselves from time to time,” Green said.

“Removing these outdated restrictions on music types being played just takes away another layer of red tape. Sensible streamlining of conditions, such as we see here, makes sense.”

This is a sentiment echoed by President of the Independent Bars Association NSW, Karl Schlothauer, who said it is also important for this to be seen in the conditions for new licensees.

“This is another great step towards breathing life into the music scene in NSW and the NSW Government commitment to restoring the vibrant night life,” Scholthauer said.

“Hopefully this encourages local councils to also look at similar conditions on Development Consents which restrict creative and cultural night time activities.”

Liquor and Gaming NSW said venues can apply at any time to have live entertainment conditions removed, and local police, councils and nearby residents will have the opportunity to comment on any proposals.

Further, an exposure bill which proposes the removal of further restrictions on live music will be made available for consultation later this month.

A full list of the venues with removed conditions can be found on the Liquor and Gaming NSW website here.

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