Rally, Accord & Greens

Photo by Joe Armao

I'm starting to wish I wasn't doing this website… it's getting depressing, and I naively didn't think the issues would last this long.

The situation is so ridiculous that Blind Freddy can see the problems (no offence to blind people), and so easily fixed that one could be forgiven for assuming this would happen quickly.

In case you are new to this issue, two folk singers playing in the afternoon now requires the hiring of expensive security guards at many hotels and bars, even with a very small audience, and this expense simply stops the music.


This can be fixed with a stroke of the pen by the Director Of Liquor Licensing, Sue MacLellan, because she can change the regulations at any time. Legally, they are in place at her discretion.

Rally and accord
The rally was great—see the SLAM website and the new official SLAM Facebook page SLAM (Save Live Australia's Music) for videos and photos.

However, most of the media reports straight after said it was a win for music, because music representatives and Government signed an accord the day before, yet for the venues, musicians and audiences sadly affected by all this, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

My new page about the accord is here: Live Music Accord

Photo: Original Bagpipe player from the classic AC/DC music video of "It’s A Long Way To The Top" - by Carbie © www.carbiewarbie.com

The Greens
I'm beginning to think The Greens might be our only salvation. They support common-sense changing of the regulations, and threaten, I think, three ALP-held seats in the election at the end of the year.

Please don't believe the nonsense that they voted against music when they didn't support a poorly-worded Liberal motion in January—it just ain't true.

Read all about it on my new page: The Greens. (And I just want to say here I haven't been involved with The Greens in any way.)

Greens MLC Greg Barber looking out for music, 23/2.

Till the next time ~ Robin

Know Your Info

With the rally in the city tomorrow, see SLAM rally, I am a bit worried that many people connected with music still don't understand the issues. So when a long email arrived from the small venues site last night, I decided to put the whole thing, with a few edits, into a blog post today. Here it is…

There exists a high risk licence condition, beginning "when live or recorded amplified music other than background music is provided:" and followed by a variety of requirements including the employment of a minimum two crowd controllers, along with staff training, cameras and signs.

This condition originally appeared in 1998 when it was applied to 3 troublesome premises in Frankston. At the time, the only thing in common among those three places that they could find was the provision of live or recorded amplified music, which is why the condition was worded that way.

The condition became a standard high risk condition, applied to licences of premises on a case by case basis, when there were incidents of trouble.

In 2002, the then Director of Liquor Licensing began a policy of applying the condition to all new late licences, and also of applying it "retrospectively", or in other words, applying it to existing late licenses as a precautionary measure. In this context, a late licence is one that allows sale of liquor after 1am.

The current Director of Liquor Licensing has continued the process of applying the condition as a precautionary measure. Numerous licences have had the condition newly imposed on them as recently as 2009.

In the process of changing the licence, licensees have been told:

"It is the Director's policy to endorse these conditions on a liquor licence where:
live or recorded amplified music other than background music is provided; and trading hours endorsed on a licence extend beyond 1 am."


"These conditions......are designed to reduce the potential for the conduct of the venue to have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the surrounding area and to minimise the occurrence of anti-social behaviour in and around the licensed premises."

Unfortunately, the imposition of these conditions all too often has an unacceptable impact on the expenses of the premises. If a premises hosts one three hour music event per week, then it faces a cost of $12000 to $16000 per year (based on a $30 to $40 per hour rate per crowd controller, who must be there extra half hour before and after gig). If there are four gigs per week, then $48000 - $64000 per year. etcetera.

S.L.A.M. and FG4LM want music to be de-linked from security conditions. While it is acknowledged that security is a necessity in many situations in contemporary society, it is demanded that other criteria be used to determine how security is applied to licensed premises.

Current situation
The Age reported on 21 January 2010, that:

"A spokeswoman for Ms MacLellan said, apart from higher fees, requirements on live music venues had not changed since 1999. But many of those conditions, such as minimum security levels, were being properly enforced for the first time."

When it was pointed out to Ms MacLellan that, in numerous individual cases, requirements had in fact changed, she replied:

"The quote in the Age is of course truncated from what was said. What was said was if the conditions were imposed then they are the same conditions as those put on in 1999 i.e. security, cameras, RSA training and notices. The option such as done with the (example)..... is to deal with other issues on a case by case basis."

The Liquor Licensing statement implying that there have been no changes other than proper enforcement continues to be presented in the press.

Further spin includes that "the campaign has been scaled back as it looks like some of the issues are being resolved." and that the rally is "not a protest, it's a celebration of live music". Neither of these is correct.

License conditions
Below is the full wording of the licence condition in question:

When live or recorded amplified music other than background music is provided:
  • The licensee shall install and maintain a surveillance recording system able to clearly identify individuals, which shows time and date and provides continuous images of all entrances and exits, bars and entertainment/dance floor areas. The surveillance recording system must operate from 30 minutes before the start of the entertainment being provided, until 30 minutes after closure. A copy of the recorded images must be available upon request for immediate viewing or removal by the Victoria Police, or a person authorised in writing by the Director of Liquor Licensing, or otherwise retained for at least one month. The position of the cameras will be to the satisfaction of the Licensing Inspector.
  • Signs, as described below, are to be displayed in all areas subject to camera surveillance. Such signs shall read: "For the safety and security of patrons and staff this area is under electronic surveillance".
  • All staff engaged in the serving of Liquor will complete a "Responsible Serving of Alcohol" training course, approved by the Director of Liquor Licensing within 2 months of this condition being imposed, or of commencing employment.
  • Crowd controllers, licensed under the Private Security Act, are to be employed at a ratio of 2 crowd controllers for the first 100 patrons and 1 crowd controller for each additional 100 patrons or part thereof. One crowd controller is to be present outside the premises to monitor patrons arriving at and departing from the premises. Crowd controllers are to be present from 30 minutes before the start of the entertainment being provided, until 30 minutes after closure.

Thanks for your work, small venues - and I just want to add the point that if a premises has these conditions, they operate at all times, not just late at night.

See you at the rally

~ Robin

Where Are The Police?

I was fascinated by this report in today's Sunday Age: Hundreds caught in CBD police blitz

A "surprise" police blitz last night on drunken behaviour in the CBD lead to 69 arrests, 22 people banned from entering licensed venues, and 368 people given $234 fines.

My question in this… why are the police letting these people get away with it on all the other nights?

And why is our government so, so stupidly attempting to deal with this behaviour by introducing fees and regulations that punish safe music venues—and consequently the creative work that goes on in them?

With the obvious result that the only safe place to go out will be the pictures at Chadstone (I would not describe Crown Casino as a safe place).

Victoria has had drunken yobs for a very long time, but it has only been since so many suburban venues have been taken over by pokies that so many of them have headed into the CBD for their "night out".

Wouldn't it be a more creative approach to do something about decentralising entertainment venues?

Lunch outcome
Read about the meeting between government and music representatives last Wednesday in Perring: ‘No Deal’ For Live Music Just Yet

Better yet, read the MINUTES of the meeting from Dave Graney, here: Dave Graney: ‘We Need A New Proxy!’

I was rather alarmed to read of Brumby's rule change suggestion: No security demands if music is over by 10pm and not if there are less than 50 people in a venue open until 1am. Weird. But at least he talked about new rules.

There is another smaller meeting tomorrow between music people and government representatives, to try to sort something out.

~ Robin

Nightclub Violence And A Big Lunch

I want to mention this article, which is about some nightclub violence last weekend - 'Coward act': teen left with permanent scarring after nightclub glassing

I see the 19 year-old victim is from Mornington, which is a very long way from the club in inner-Melbourne South Melbourne.

I'd like to make the point that the kids in the outer suburbs and beyond don't have many places to go these days, because the suburban and outer-suburban venues have mostly been taken over by gaming.

Also, the current liquor licensing is going to make it progressively harder to find a safe place for a night out, because the small, safe venues who have consistently put culture ahead of mega-dollars, and so have a narrow profit margin, will not be able to survive the draconian conditions, fees and fines (word is that venues are being fined harshly for something like a security guard not filling his time sheet in properly).

See this article in yesterday's Age: Cultural events hard hit by bureaucratic regulations

And meanwhile, the big clubs march on.

The Big Lunch
I call on the Government to address two things at tomorrow's Big Lunch (amongst all the other things):

1. Music venues in inner, middle and outer suburbs, and the country, be actively supported so kids don't all head straight into the city and into dangerous clubs and surrounding streets.

2. Remove the draconian liquor license fee increase a venue cops if they have a single infringement, such as a noise fine, the year before. I have updated my Fees page with information on this. We all know a noise fine can come from a single ridiculous complaint, with no opportunity to challenge it… while I'm at it, fix this too.

I don't know what will be on the menu at The Big Lunch, but I suspect if I was attending I would not feel like eating.


Madwoman At Large

The main change I've made in the past few days is to update my pages on Sue MacLellan in the light of Tom Hawking's excellent article in Inpress this week, Feb 3, page 19: LEAVE OUR PUBS ALONE.

See Sue MacLellan.

This woman has had ample opportunity to become familiar with how her decisions have impacted Victoria's music culture. She has been having visits from those affected for months.

Saying a quiet Saturday afternoon music performance with an audience of 10 people requires expensive security guards is either monumentally stupid or there is a hidden agenda—whether it's to bolster the gaming industry or simply to bolster her ego I don't know. Perhaps she believes she is being a "strong woman" by refusing to take in any information.

Whatever the case, as Tom Hawking points out in his article, the point is that one person should not have such extensive powers, and should not be unaccountable. Even Brumby can't sack her!

I expect you know by now about the S.L.A.M. rally on Feb 23. A band will re-enact AC/DC's video of riding down Swanston St on a truck singing Long Way To The Top. Here's the rally's website: S.L.A.M (Save Live Australian Music)

At the moment it is the RocKwiz band playing—would be good if AC/DC make it, won’t it?

See you there!

Cheers - Robin

Talks Fail

Unfortunately talks between music representatives and Sue MacLellan (Wednesday) and Tony Robinson (Thursday) got nowhere. Apparently MacLellan offered that operators could apply to have their risk conditions removed (this is already in place anyway but not reasonable), but the group says the link between music and violence should simply be dropped.

And Tony Robinson doesn't seem to be able to influence Sue MacLellan.

By the way, did you see the cover of Inpress this week? ha ha ha ha ha

inpress cover sue maclellan

I have heard that MacLellan is upset about it. Well… lots of venue operators and their staff and musicians are upset with her, and they are facing losing the businesses they have spent years building up, and their livelihood, creative work and culture, whereas Sue isn't.

I've made quite a few changes to this site in the past few days: I've updated the Information page, Liquor licenses page, Government attitude page and Sue MacLellan's attitude.

I've heard things are going to get BIG this week - here's hoping for a resolution.

Cheers - Robin