Liquor licence fees

On this page: music hotels and bars, followed by other types of businesses.

Music hotels and bars
Licence fees for hotels and bars can escalate once there has been a "paid infringement or successful prosecution" (starting 2011).

As an example, a 1am pub with 300 capacity that gets a single conviction this year will have its licence fees next year go from $2,385 to $6,956. This is on top of the infringement fine itself.

See this for yourself with the Government's groovy Liquor Licensing Fee Calculator. Hotels have a General licence, and small bars have an On-premises licence. And try it for 3 infringements.

What I am not sure of yet, is whether this "infringement" could include a noise fine. If it does, the possibility of fees escalating through unfair noise fines could well be enough to put venues off hosting music.

The liquor licence fee calculator itself says this compliance history is related to "supplying alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons or permitting minors or drunk and disorderly persons on the premises".

I am trying to find out whether noise fines are definitely excluded—and I might point out that if it is difficult for me to find out, Liquor Licensing are hardly making the system easy to negotiate for business owners.

Also, I thought this article Noisy bar's fine push, August 2009, was interesting. I don't know anything about this bar and for all I know it might have been awful, but I think the article gives some insights into fines and attitudes.

Liquor Licence Fees - Department of Justice page

Other businesses
Fees for liquor licences for smaller businesses went up by a huge amount at the start of this year.

Many small businesses are struggling as a result.

These businesses aren’t all music venues, but many are, and a look at fees spotlights the incompetence of the liquor licensing body and the government in bringing in their changes to licensing, I think.

Small country pubs
This article Fee hikes hit country pubs begins with “HUNDREDS of small bush pubs could close as a result of soaring government costs and cheap discount liquor outlets.”

One publican says his liquor licence fees had leapt from $900 last year to $2350 this year.

A spokesman also says that another big problem threatening survival of bush pubs was heavily discounted packaged liquor offered by supermarket chains at below cost prices.

The government’s response? A spokeswoman for Consumer Affairs minister Tony Robinson said the fees were based on research that identified alcohol-related crime and violence was a problem across Victoria.

Sounds lame to me. Especially as the big liquor outlets seem to have no problem with their licence fees, and they sell most of the alcohol (see below in ‘who is behind it?’).

Small operators
The small corner grog shop just near us has had his fees go up from $250 last year to $1590 this year. He really couldn’t afford it, and he and a group of others argued the case, and were unsuccessful. He said the usual reasons were given, that this fee increase was necessary to curb violence. Really? Never saw any violence there. Funnily, the huge Dan Murphy’s near us has exactly the same fee: $1590 (as far as I can see from the licence fee calculator).

For more dreadful examples, see this article Sykes: Brumby looks after the Tote with Liquor Licence laws.

Swords at the market
Swords wine shop at the Queen Victoria Market has been classified as "high risk", and has accordingly been lumped in with 1000 capacity all-night clubs, and their fees have gone from from $1700 to $6,300.

All because they are open before 9am—the rest of the market opens at 6am and they have to, too.

For more, see this Swords Wine page.

Who is behind it?
I have read that figures from Restaurant & Catering Victoria show that around 75% of alcohol sales in Victoria are from off-premises sales (shops), and that these outlets only pay about 2% of the fees.

you might find this article from The Age interesting: New licensing fees will kill small bars with character, 16/8/09. “Driven by the Australian Hotels Association, this new fee system will lead to reduced fees for many hotels and restaurants. Late-night bars, seemingly responsible for all society's woes, face fee rises in the vicinity of 200 per cent.”