As previously reported, the South Australian government will be introducing hefty new liquor licensing fees starting next month, that will affect the business of many Adelaide-based clubs as well as the culture of the state capital.

In a move that local venue and club owners are critiquing as a cash-grab by the government, any venues with a 200+ capacity mus pay upwards of $5000 in order to continue trading and serving alcohol after 2am.

The new tariffs were introduced after the SA government failed to introduce new legislation that imposed a 3am lockout curfew on all venues, the pricing of the new taxes are so large however, that for smaller businesses they effectively ensure the same effect.

There’s potential hope to be found in the grim atmosphere of Adelaide’s dwindling live music scene however, as Adelaide’s The Advertiser reports of new, cheaper liquor licenses aimed at creating laneway bars and ‘hole in the wall’ hotspots in the CBD.

Business Services and Consumers Minister John Rau told the Adelaide paper of his plans to draft a new liquor law proposal that offers cheaper licenses to smaller venues, similar to those already in operation in Melbourne, Sydney and Western Australia.

Mr. Rau hopes the new licenses would encourage a stronger bar and music culture in Adelaide that mimics those other capital cities. The new model would allow small businesses with meagre premises a cut-rate liquor license and less red tape than existing laws, which often require the serving of alcohol to be paired with restaurants and live entertainment.

Sally Neville, the chief executive of the Restaurant and Catering Association agrees that the changes would help develop Adelaide’s flagging nightlife through diversity, “the offering for young people particularly to enjoy hospitality outside the existing availability of  restaurants, nightclubs or hotels,” she told reporters.

Neville also concurs that the ‘hole in wall’ bar licenses are a strong characteristic of fellow cities’ culture. “It’s what people talk about when they go to Melbourne,” she added, ” quite frankly, it’s a shame that we haven’t got more of that style here.”

The State Premier Jay Weatherill and Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood also strongly backed Mr. Rau’s license proposal. The latter even joining the Minister on a trip to Melbourne to tour the city’s laneway bars and venues in order to see the effect the small bar license model would have. The Adelaide Mayor has commissioned his own report on implementing small bar licenses saying, “it’s overdue. We have more laneway assets than Melbourne, and we’re not utilising them.”

According to Mr. Rau, the new licensing should take effect before Adelaide’s ‘Mad March’ Festival season, which includes music festivals like Future and Soundwave, as well as live music events like Fringe and WOMAdelaide.

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