Funniest. Speech. Ever.

I’m not sure whether it's comedy or tragedy, but either way you MUST read about the speech made by the ALP's Matt Viney, in Parliament.

We got the lowdown on how he knows there are problems at live music venues, because FORTY YEARS AGO he went to a Spectrum concert and saw—nudge, nudge—people passing around a BIG CIGARETTE! For more about the speech, plus the speech itself, look here: Matt Viney's petition speech.

Then there's the Best Speech Ever, given by Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik after she presented the Live Music Petition to Parliament. Look here: Petition speech by Sue Pennicuik. Sue's onto it.

In fact I've created a whole new section on the Greens on this website, find it here: The Greens.

The FairGo4Live Music petition was handed to Parliament recently, hence the above speeches. I’ve done a page about it: Live music petition

Roll-back continues (slowly)
Last Friday we had the very good news The Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick had its "high risk" conditions more-or-less rolled back. They still have to provide security guards if there is "entertainment" after 12.30am, but that's not a problem because their music is over by then.

But what is "entertainment" supposed to mean, and are other venues going to have "music" changed to "entertainment" on their licence conditions?

What about stand-up comics, or maybe mime artists… will these be requiring security guards in the near future?

Maybe as well as S.L.A.M. we'll be seeing some new groups joining the campaign, like…

S.L.A.C. Save Live Australian Comedy
S.L.A.T.N. Save Live Australian Trivia Nights
S.L.A.P.R. Save Live Australian Poetry Readings
S.L.A.M.A. Save Live Australian Mime Artists

I'll stop right here, and hopefully this is just a little rant and common sense will prevail.

Kate's article
In a busy week for the campaign, there was also Kate Shaw's article published in The Age, 15/4. It's well worth a read—find it here: Music venues still threatened as Tote lesson not learnt

Cheers ~ Robin

Roll-Back Begins

The George Hotel, Hamilton

The roll-back that shouldn't even be happening has begun. One premises has had the liquor licence condition requiring security guards any time music plays lifted… the George Hotel in Hamilton. Word came through to the music crew late Monday.

It shouldn't be happening because the onus to remove a "guilty until proven innocent" licence condition, that says if you have music in your joint you must hire expensive security guards, should not be on the owner.

There should be no link between music and "high risk" conditions in the first place, and the Government and Liquor Licensing are showing no sign of removing this link.

Moreover, it has been 6 weeks now since the Government recommended to Liquor Licensing that there be more discretion in the crowd control requirements, as a result of the Live Music Accord, and it has taken this long for one place to be successful?

Not only that, only 6 businesses have applied, of which only 4 are eligible for the exemption, out of 700 venues with the high risk conditions on them—mainly because the process, while free, is difficult, daunting and not guaranteed of success.

Also, this roll-back is only for the security guards requirement, not surveillance cameras, as this is all the Live Music Accord covers—The George in Hamilton still has to provide expensive cameras on "all entrances and exits, bars and entertainment/dance floor areas" if they have music. Look up their licence here.

I'm not saying this is necessarily a problem for them—for all I know they may have these in place already. It's just that as things are, this condition stays on all the affected venues, who may only want to have a folk singer play to a mature group, and CCTV is an expensive set-up that may well discourage a venue from putting on music.

John Brumby and The Tote
That John Brumby and Richard Wynne (the Tote's local MP) should imply to the press they contributed to the Tote reopening, by attending the announcement and dishing out platitudes about how they support live music, is galling in the extreme, when you consider their inaction. See this article in mess+noise: Tote Reopening: A Brumby Photo Op?

This is how Quincy McLean, SLAM organiser, described them on Monday, before news about The George came in:

"They've broken the legs of all these venues and have promised to give out pairs of crutches that no one has yet received."

Well, one venue now has crutches.

I'm looking forward to SLAM's 'how to vote' cards, coming to a polling booth near you, in November's election.


Relevant links
By George! A licensing win, but only six bother to apply
Here's jeers to Brumby's latest liquor moves

The Tote LIVES

So it wasn't all in vain (the Tote protest above).

This afternoon at around 2pm it was announced the Tote will re-open in 6 weeks.

The new owners, Andrew Portokallis and Jon Perring, will still be subject to the same draconian licence conditions as the former owner, Bruce Milne, but intend to apply to have these removed when they take over—a luxury only possible after the efforts of numerous music negotiators and of all the people who attended the Tote rally and the SLAM rally.

It should be noted that a few venues have already applied to have these conditions removed, but Liquor Licensing is bogging their applications down in unrelated red tape, and none of them have been successful yet.

Also, that the "guilty until proven innocent" licence conditions are still on licenses at all, with the onus on the licensee to act to remove them, says a lot about the inaction of John Brumby and his Government.

But it's good news! And bands will be back. More soon.

Cheerily yours - Robin

Easter News

photo © Carbie Warbie

Yesterday a group of musicians spanning many generations handed Greens arts spokeswoman Sue Pennicuik a petition signed by 22,000 people, which asks the Government to remove the link between live music and high-risk liquor licence conditions.

Ms Pennicuik (the other Sue) will present it to the Parliament next week.

Here's the press release from S.L.A.M and Fair Go 4 Live Music:

Over 20,000 Victorians demand that ‘high-risk’ conditions be de-linked from live music.
12.30pm Parliament House, Melbourne

Since the closure of The Tote Hotel in mid-January, the Fair Go 4 Live Music petition has been collecting signatures from music lovers all around Victoria, calling on the State Government to overturn the link between live music and ‘high risk’ conditions on liquor licenses for live music venues.

Melbourne’s musicians and music lovers marched through the city streets for the SLAM Rally on February 23rd and it’s time to return to the steps of Parliament with the delivery of the petition to the Legislative Council on Wednesday April 7th 2010 by various decades of well-known Victorian musicians.

The Victorian musicians who will be presenting the Fair Go 4 Live Music petition to Parliament are:

1930s – Harold Frith
1940s – Mike Rudd
1940s – Ross Wilson
1960s – Jon Von Goes
1960s – Clare Bowditch
1970s – Kram
1970s – Angie Hart
1980s – Dan Sultan
1980s – Evelyn Morris

Despite the signing of the Live Music Accord with the State Government, the link between live music and ‘high risk’ still exists. More disturbingly, no venues have had their high risk conditions removed since the signing of the Accord. The music industry and the public want to see real action on this issue. We want action, not just Accords. The threat to Victoria’s vibrant live music culture remains in place.

The 22,000 signatures attest to the public support of live music. SLAM, FG4LM and Music Victoria will redouble their efforts to bring this issue to the attention of the public.

SLAM petition makes it to Parliament - story on triple j
Musos take fight to Parliament - The Age

Remove Sue MacLellan campaign
At the end of March I put up a new page on this website… Remove Sue campaign.

There has now been word the Government are restructuring arrangements for liquor licensing, but it's still possible MacLellan may remain in her role for another year, and every week that goes by with her in charge, more damage is done to music venues and the music industry. Please consider campaigning in some way to make sure she is removed from her position as soon as possible.

New Facebook page
I've now set up a Facebook page… Music Doesn't Make You Violent, to help publicise this website and the issues. Please fan yourself!

Articles and letters
I've also added an Articles and letters section to the website, primarily for writing not published elsewhere online. There's one article so far, by the Reverend Canon John Fowler, about how our pubs are essential training grounds for musicians: Pubs Give ‘Live’ Line to Local Bands.

Please drop me a line if you would like me to publish an article or letter for you.

More articles
Two other great articles have appeared. One is Labor's HOT Seats can save Live Music's Universities, by Martin Cooper. It includes a moving description of a music session at the Lomond Hotel, where both kids and adults learned from experienced musos.

The other is in the March AudioTechnolgy magazine (no 73), page 32: Live music shall overcome… someday. It concludes by saying to sound engineers: "Remember, it's very difficult to master the art of a live mix if there are no venues to practise in".

That's it for now

Cheers - Robin