Letter To Local Member

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PostModern

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I've been pointed to this site:
http://www.raisethebar.org.au/
They are encouraging people to send a toast to their MP.. I thought I'd go for broke and post a long letter.

I encourage everyone to join the site (which is a grass roots movement started on facebook.com) and send Campbell a similar email.

Here's what I've got so far. I think I'll polish it up a bit before sending off, tho. If anyone has feedback on how this can be improved, I'm all ears. I think it could be shorter as politicians seem to have a very short attention span, but I wanted to make clear that I am not just saying "make it better Dave".


I'd like to propose a toast to new liquor laws for NSW which promote opportunity and diversity.

As a "beer gourmet" I would welcome a major review and overhaul of the NSW liquor licensing laws. The Illawarra has a fledgling brewing industry that is stifled by arcane outdated licensing laws that remind us the NSW Government has not yet forgotten the Rum Rebellion. What could be a thriving local niche industry is instead a struggle for continued existence by a small number of businesses.

The Illawarra is placed in the perfect location for day tourism from Sydney, attracting locals and overseas visitors alike. The current licensing laws do not allow for family-friendly environments to showcase the microbrewed beer that we have to offer. Local craft breweries like The 5 Islands Brewing Company and South Coast Real Ale are very limited in the number comfortable, safe and clean premises in which to sell their products. I would not take my family into many of the Pubs in the Illawarra, just for me to taste a beer, as the atmosphere is not conducive, in most of them, to the entertainment of children.

Similarly, evening venues where one might enjoy a quiet craft brewed beer or bottle of wine with friends in a quiet, clean and tidy atmosphere are sadly lacking. Restaurants are fine, but most require several table turnovers per night to ensure they are able to meet their operational budgets, so patrons are often rushed out the door to allow another party to be seated. They do not rely on alcohol sales, generally, for anything but paying their liquor licence fees and serve liquor only as accompaniments to full meals. This limited, outdated requirement is again stifling the tourism and entertainment industries in this state and causing the loss of many tourism dollars to the Illawarra, as well as restricting the types of venues that your constituents may wish to enjoy locally after a hard week’s work. Fine wine and craft beer are not beverages that should be restricted to dark enclosed Pubs filled to the brim with gaming machines and billowing with cigarette smoke, nor to just community clubs. Small business is capable of providing the sorts of venues that today’s market requires, and be flexible enough to change their mode as the market requires.

Licensed cafs; intimate Jazz bars; Tapas bars with a selection of small dishes and various beverages; wine-buff venues serving hand selected fine wines by the glass; craft beer bars serving local, Australian and overseas craft-brewed beers; “mussel and chip” restaurants serving and cooking with local beer… These are just a small sample of the types of venues that are not currently practical to establish in Wollongong due to the restrictive or expensive nature of the current liquor laws.

A caf-like environment is a perfect setting for the enjoyment of fine beverages with one’s family. While the adults might partake of an alcoholic drink, the children could enjoy any type of beverage that one can currently order at a caf, such as iced chocolates, milkshakes or freshly squeezed locally grown fruit juices, accompanied by a healthy and delicious snack, rather than the mandatory glass of lemon squash and pack of crisps from a pub. All the while, they will be witnessing responsible drinking behaviour modelled by their parents and other patrons in a comfortable and calm environment. But sadly, this type of venue is only currently only possible to visit in Melbourne or overseas!

I attract your attention to a Discussion Paper by Professor John Nieuwenhuysen of Monash University comparing the Liquor Laws of NSW and Victoria. It highlights the improvement of venues now available to cosmopolitan Melbourne that Sydney and indeed all of NSW are not able to enjoy. The document is available online here:
http://westfield.com/corporate/pdf/media/0...ssion_paper.pdf
The paper shows that since Victoria’s liquor licensing review in 1986, there has not been an increase in per capita liquor consumption, nor a decrease in state licensing revenue or excise revenue to the Federal government. All that has been seen is an increase in the type of venues that a mature and responsible segment of the market is patronising and that the equivalent market in NSW is still crying out for.

A recent event, highlighting, in my humble opinion, the extreme craziness and inefficiencies of the current red tape environment facing licensed premises in your electorate, involves the situation when 5 Islands wished to commence packaged beer sales. Their license to brew in the 5 Islands Brewery (5IBC) at the WIN Entertainment Centre only allowed for the production of beer for sale on the premises as over the bar beer. When the business wished to expand into the new area of bottled product, they were forced to dismantle the brewery installed inside the 5IBC venue at City Beach and move the equipment to an industrial unit and apply for a new Brewers Licence. This involved much additional expense to the business (apart from the expenses to the Licensing Court for a second brewing license), as well as removing the tourist attraction of a working brewery inside the bar area. What is left is now just a pub on the beach. What was once an interesting and educational venue is now “just another bar”. I do not take my family out there any more.

The opportunities that would arise to the Illawarra in the way of new business ventures, better, more diverse and more interesting entertainment venues are plainly constrained by the current liquor licensing laws. The so called “Craft Brewing revolution” that is taking place in the USA is now occurring in Australia. States like Victoria with its simplified licensing system, and WA with its welcoming attitude to Craft Brewing ventures are attracting these businesses, which this state and your electorate may miss out on. Witness the growth in numbers in WA: Little Creatures, Sail and Anchor, Cowaramup, Elmars, Billabong, Indian Ocean, MASH Brewing, Nail Brewing Australia, Tanglehead etc - 25 in all. NSW which has more than triple the population of WA has only 33 breweries, which is a far cry from 75 breweries. This disparity of breweries per million of population is almost certainly due to the barriers to entry to the industry caused by the current licensing laws. Surely our thirst for good beer is as strong as the West Australians? I strongly believe that Wollongong can become a significant “beer destination”, in much the same way that Fremantle and the Margaret River are in WA, if the licensing barriers to small brewing operations were removed.

Currently, small breweries, especially those without their own bars, find great difficulty in marketing bulk packaged (kegged) beer. Most pubs in NSW have “tied taps” belonging to the major breweries, who pay for and maintain the taps in return for exclusive use by their products. Microbreweries cannot compete with the marketing power or enormous budgets of the large breweries. Consequently they are forced to eek out an existence in “boutique” pubs, and through the sale of bottled beer which entails much greater overheads in the cost of packaging equipment, bottles, cartons, etc. More diverse venues would provide an excellent tap beer market such as exists in the USA, France and Belgium to name a few beer loving countries. The growth of local breweries and beer and wine cafs will lead to increased local employment, tourism and the flow-on benefits this will bring to the community, such as decreased crowding of commuter trains on the Sydney rail-line and peak hour traffic on the F6, thereby extending the life of the current infrastructure. Also there will be environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions transporting beer from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide as well as many other small “hidden” secondary benefits.

As a voter and constituent, I urge you to raise this issue with the Government, so that the state of NSW does not remain a penal colony that doles out liquor to its residents under severely restrictive conditions, but opens its arms to more diverse liquor outlets and more diverse breweries while maintaining or indeed improving responsible service of alcohol goals. It is my firm opinion that much of the harm to the community from excessive alcohol consumption (and almost certainly problem gambling) is caused, rather than alleviated, by the current licensing laws. Normalising alcohol consumption by the means highlighted in the paper referenced above will lead to long term benefits to the community, not least by allowing the population of this great state to enjoy sensible consumption in comfortable venue.
 

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The report you sent thru was great Rob. I liked the 2 questions it possed;

a) what is the purpose of the liquor act
B) if a common sense test cannot be meet, what is the outcome of a fairness test.

The NSW Liquor Act does not pass question A too well as the Act seems to serve groups of interest (call me a hypocrite) so moving to question B, again common sense and fairness cannot be meet. The chestnut of cellar door sales for wine makers not beer makers illustrates this.

Lots of fun

Scotty
 

PostModern

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The more I think about it, the more I realise I can cut huge swathes out of my letter, as much of what I've said is covered in that report. I just tried to put a local spin on it.
 

PostModern

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Think I'm drawing a long bow with the transport infrastructure life extensions? :)
 

PostModern

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I reckon the bikies and other similar clubs will love the new legislation, so long as they can find a "fit and proper" member to apply for the license :)
 

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I reckon the bikies and other similar clubs will love the new legislation, so long as they can find a "fit and proper" member to apply for the license :)


Yes - a case of 'will all those without a criminal record pls step forward ... anyone ... anyone ...'

Scotty
 

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