Live music venues and bars continue to be under pressure across Australia following falling revenues and increased regulation by state governments.
The New South Wales government announced last week that it was seriously considering reintroducing a lock out for licensed venues across the state and banning the sale of shots late night, and the South Australian government had considered similar plans but were unable to get the numbers in parliament to push a lock out through the parliament.
Instead the city of churches has now turned their attention to a new code of practice for licensed venues. Premier Jay Weatherill announced the move as part of broad measures to curb increased violence, and will be introduced alongside more police and an education campaign targeting the consequences of aggressive behaviour when drunk.
“It wouldn’t matter if it was one punch or a series of punches, if it led to the consequences that we’ve seen here, the full measure of the law can be applied to the perpetrator,” the Premier told The Adelaide Advertiser.
“(We need to) make sure they are penalised to the extent that they remain a danger to the community … (and) to the extent that we can deter others by the penalty that they get,” he continued, whilst calling on community leaders, including police and licensees, to speak out against the violence.
“The new [Police] Commissioner has committed himself to really upping the physical presence of police on the streets,” he added, saying that a new code of practice for licensed venues will round out the increased police presence.
The code of practice is being drafted and is likely to be released for consultation within weeks, but is said to include crackdowns on glassware, a ban on shots and happy hour, more CCTVs, banning footpath drinking after a certain time, having “drink marshals” in certain areas, and mandating ID scanning at different locations.
SA Attorney General John Rau is also said to be considering introducing two codes of practice, with one only apply to venues that trade past 2am.
The move follows the South Australian government’s recent introduction of hefty new liquor licensing fees, with new tariffs for late night venues; vastly affecting the business and culture of many Adelaide-based clubs and live music venues.
It also came at a fragile time for licensed venues which have been struggling under increased regulation and falling patron numbers. Adelaide has already seen the closure of venues like The Crown And Sceptre in July, and the Jade Monkey earlier in the year.
In response, Business Services and Consumer Minister John Rau introduced potential hope in the grim atmosphere of the city’s dwindling music scene, with the introduction of new, cheaper licenses aimed at creating laneway bars and ‘hole in the wall’ hotspots across Adelaide’s CBD, similar to Melbourne and Sydney’s night culture.
The Premier also announced plans to introduce a music expert to work in collaboration with the Premier’s office to develop strategies of overcoming newly introduced planning and licensing issues, although it now appears that announcement was little more than window dressing disguising a concerted effort to suffocate licensed venues in the name of safety.
“I’m trying to find some way to have it a little bit more capable of enforcement and also to try and regulate particular practices where I’m very clear that those practices are basically undesirable, like drinking contests,” Attorney General Rau said.
“I want to put in place things that work, that make a difference,” added Premier Weatherill. “But I don’t think we can just stand by and have these situations occurring.”