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

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

License Fee Hikes

I've aded a new page today about changes to liquor licence fees. Information is starting to come out, now that the fees have been in place for about 3 weeks.

This is a much wider issue than music venues, but I do think the new structure shows the utter incompetence of the State Government and Liquor Licensing, and THAT is relevant to music venues, at the moment.

Here's the new page: Fees. I've also added more fallout to the Fallout page, and links to the Links page.

By now you probably know that Chris Morris the owner of the Tote building is in talks to keep it running—there's a Chris Morris Rocks Facebook fan page!

Chris on the Tote:
"It has a huge reputation in Melbourne and it's just been fascinating seeing all the commentary and the reaction of people and the Facebook sites and everything else.
"Therefore we have no desire for it to close down and we just hope it can continue in its current form and we're pretty confident that will happen."

Well good!

Hope this flows on to all the other music venues affected.

Cheers - Robin

The Tote Closes

The Tote Collingwood
So today the publican at The Tote announces The Tote is closing. He says the liquor license conditions make it impossible to keep going.

Apparently the State Government believes that the MUSIC at The Tote could cause the type of violence found at CBD nightclubs, because the draconian conditions on The Tote’s license only come into effect if there is live music. What a joke.

Here’s the press release from Bruce Milne, publican:

It’s last drinks at the Tote. This weekend.
I know it’s sudden. I didn’t plan it to be like that.
I can’t afford to keep fighting Liquor Licensing. The “high risk” conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably. I can’t afford the new “high risk” fees they have imposed. I can’t afford to keep fighting them at VCAT. I can’t renegotiate a lease in this environment.
So, come into the Tote this weekend to say farewell to the sad staff and to feel the sticky carpet for the last time.
I don’t believe the Tote is a “high risk” venue, in the same category as the nightclubs that make the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite being on a rough little corner of Collingwood, the Tote has had very, very few incidents. As a local police officer once said, “The Tote’s the quietest pub in the area.” (!).
It’s not dumb luck that the Tote has escaped serious violence. I believe the business has been run responsibly. People don’t come to the Tote to fight. They come because they have a passion for music and love to be in an historic venue that reeks of that same passion.
The Tote is (sorry, was) an important cornerstone of Melbourne’s rich and diverse music community. It’s too late to save the Tote but not too late to try and save other inner city venues that are feeling the same pressures.
I know the sudden closure affects a lot of people. Most importantly, the hard-working staff that are being forced onto the dole queue. And the bands and artists that have had their gigs pulled from under them.
Anyway, I don’t want to get maudlin (or viciously angry). The era of the Tote is over. If you love the place, come and have a beer with us this weekend.

Bruce Milne

So The Tote is seen as a “high risk” venue. Funny, I felt totally safe at the Tote… I think because it had music. Would I go into one of those yucko pubs on a corner somewhere, those ones with no music? Naah - I wouldn’t feel safe.

~ Robin