Regulatory Impact Statement, August 2009

Sue MacLellan, Director of Liquor Licensing, has considerable powers. A good way to get a handle on what she can do is to look at Liquor Control Reform Regulations - Regulatory Impact Statement, August 2009 (pdf) on the Department of Justice website.

You can search through the document for “music” or “Director” to make it easier to negotiate - either in your browser or your pdf reader.

From page 72:
“The decision as to whether to impose a particular condition on a licence is entirely a discretionary matter for the Director.”

History of conditions
On page 71 of the document, there is a history of how licence conditions came about. It’s quite enlightening—here’s a sample…

In time, the Commission developed a standard set of what become known as ‘high-risk conditions’ and applied these to premises that were authorised to trade late and that offered entertainment. The first full set of high risk conditions appeared in 1996 and were imposed on the venue ‘Studio 54’. At this time, the Commission concluded that the reactive imposition of conditions only after violence had occurred meant that it was ‘closing the door after the horse had bolted’. A more proactive and risk-based approach was subsequently adopted in which all premises that traded to 1am or later and offered music were defined as high risk and made subject to additional high risk conditions.

practice has been continued by the Director of Liquor Licensing (‘Director’). Following the grant of a licence, the Director is empowered, under Part 2 of the Liquor Control Reform Act, to impose any condition on that licence. The Director also has the power, under section 58 of the Liquor Control Reform Act, to vary an existing liquor licence to impose a new condition on the licence.


The Director’s current practice, consistent with the now defunct Liquor Licensing Commission’s earlier approach, is to impose this condition [a surveillance system] on premises that:
  • trade after 1am; and
  • have live or amplified music (not including ‘background music’).

It’s a practice
So imposing conditions is a "practice", and any particular conditions are not “the law” (except in the sense that what lone Sue says as she goes along is enforceable).

Imposing these conditions is something MacLellan can un-practise at any time.

This is consistent with the following words at the end of this article in Sunday's Age 24/1:

In a statement, Ms Maclellan said she acknowledged that conditions for late-trading venues with live or amplified music might have unintended consequences. In those cases she might use her powers to modify the conditions.

So what is she waiting for?

Music not a risk factor
The following excerpt from the R.I.S. document is from Key findings, page iv.

In relation to other venue types, particularly those offering live and recorded music, limitations in the data (missing or incomplete data) prevented drawing any firm conclusions about whether they represent a risk factor. For this reason, they are not included in the proposed model as specific risk factors. The majority of the live and recorded music venues in the data set are captured by the late opening hours risk factor.

The government's own report found no link between music and risk of violence.