Liberal Nationals Coalition

The Panics play at the Tote, at the SLAM anniversary gig, Feb 23.

It's only taken me about 5 months, but I've finally updated this site about the Coalition winning power last November. Perhaps I was depressed.

But I shouldn't be, because their policy is good for music. They haven't acted on any of it yet, but circumstances have been rather exceptional, with the floods here in Victoria.

I've started up a new page about the Coalition and their policy, find it here: Coalition.

I've also launched a new links page for 2011, and the couple of articles on it at the moment are worth reading - one is about the past year since the SLAM rally, and the other is about the Tote finally having its liquor licence updated - most people probably don't realise that the Tote has had the same licence conditions that drove the former owner out of business, since it re-opened, until now.

So all in all, there have been a lot of changes in attitudes of officials, and doors opened for negotiations, which are very valuable. And live music has been put firmly on the political agenda. But only 3 hotels have actually had their licence conditions changed since the SLAM rally - the George in Hamilton, the Lomond in East Brunswick, and now the Tote.

Lots of venues and potential venues are not hosting music because they would have to hire security guards. Acts starting out can't get gigs as easily on quiet nights. Let's hope the Baillieu government sticks to its promises and changes this situation.

~ 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

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

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

Government Caving In?

There have been quite a few signs the government is changing its tune. I hope they are, and that it goes further than a cosmetic "we saved the Tote".

I've updated the following pages, with information and links from the past few days.: Government attitude, Sue MacLellan’s attitude and the Links page. You’ll find Jon Faine’s radio interview of Sue MacLellan about fees in there.

Cheers - Robin

Government Attitude

I've added a section to this website today about the government's attitude to the damage they are doing to Victoria's music culture.

The new section is here: Government attitude

There are pages about Premier John Brumby, liquor licensing boss Sue MacLellan, and also about the debacle being endured by Swords Wine at the Vic market.

I've also added some info about changes to venue capacities, on the Pubs page.

An item in Crikey yesterday suggested the government were about to change their ways, and start being realistic about license conditions.

Here's hoping for a quick resolution.

Cheers - Robin