Sue MacLellan with Jon Faine

Jon Faine's interview of then-Director of Liquor Licensing Sue MacLellan Friday morning 22/1 is interesting. It's a 14.3 MB mp3 and the interview is in the second half. Download it from here: A CFA Bungle .. and the Liquor Licensing Boss Takes on her Critics.

Jon’s questioning is mostly about the increases in liquor licence fees rather than licence conditions, which are what most concerns the music sector.

However towards the end he brings up music venues, and I've written out this part of the interview below.

I won't say much about this—the issues here are well addressed in other parts of this website. I'll just say I think MacLellan’s claim she is just doing her job is mischievous in this context, given her independence from Government and the huge amount of discretion the 1998 Act gives her. No Government told her she had to make licensed premises employ two security guards when a folk singer strummed a guitar in the afternoon for a small audience.

FAINE: Sue MacLellan, this is also getting personal. There are people in particular in the music industry who are blaming you for the closure of their favourite venues, the Tote, the Arthouse and there may be others as well. I understand there's a personal campaign targeting you now.

MACLELLAN: There has been, I don't really need to comment on that. I'm there to administer the law, I'm not there to deal with those kinds of issues.

FAINE: But does it take its toll? Is it having an effect on you?

MACLELLAN: It's not having an effect on me, it's probably steeling my resolve to finish doing this task which is to implement the fee structure.

FAINE: In fact though, you're just applying, you're just doing your job, aren't you?


FAINE: You don't set the policy, in fact if people want to run some sort of activist campaign, they're targeting the wrong person.

MACLELLAN: I'm not a politician, I'm a public servant doing my job [with a slight laugh]. The fact they choose to take out their personal opinions on me is their matter.

FAINE: It's unfortunate, but at the same time it demonstrates the level of emotion, the level at which people are angry over the requirement that you administer a policy that makes them so upset.

MACLELLAN: Well, that's a matter for them.

FAINE: Well it's certainly, from my point of view, I think it's unfortunate, someone should never target someone who is just doing their job, but at the same time we have tried once with the minister, we'll obviously have to try again.

To Jon Faine: the minister is running a mile from this one. And in case you still don’t realise there is more to it than MacLellan “just doing her job”, you could perhaps look at the following words from the minutes of a meeting between Government and music representatives, on Feb 10:

‘Brumby said the government would “ask the Liquor Licensing director to take a more common sense approach”. He pointed out she is a statutory officer and that the government couldn't order her about. He suggested she should be more accommodating to music venues.’