South Australia’s live music scene welcomed an important law reform on Tuesday 17 November, when the State Parliament voted unanimously to pass the Liquor Licensing (Entertainment on Licensed Premises) Amendment Bill 2015.
The amendment abolished the ‘entertainment consent’ stipulation of the liquor license, which required all venues with liquor licenses to gain permission from the Liquor Licensing Commissioner before hosting live entertainment. Venues had to specify genre, instrumentation, time and date. South Australia was the only state in the nation with such a law.
So, for example, Condition 4 of The Overway Hotel’s licence stated, ‘There shall be no rock/heavy metal bands/disco music’, while Condition 3 (ii) of HIGHER GROUND’s read, ‘Approved genres specify, “Andean, Ancient Greek, Christian Country, Indian Asian, Latin Freestyle, Gregorian Chant, Medieval, Opera Polka, Blue Grass (two words).”’ According to Rip It Up, Glenelg’s Dublin Hotel was taken to court after hosting DJs while licensed for traditional Irish music only.
Maximum penalties for venues in breach of consent were $10,000 for a first offence and $20,000 for a second or subsequent offence. Exempt activities included broadcast sport and recorded music.
Lisa Bishop, Music SA’s general manager and a member of the Music Industry Council, said, ‘[Entertainment consent is] something the music industry identified as one of the key barriers to increasing performance opportunities for artists. Taking [it] away will remove a lot of frustrating restrictions that exist upon current licensees in South Australia in terms of instrument and genres restrictions. It is another step towards encouraging local business to incorporate live music in their business models.’
John Wardle, policy director of the Live Music Office, said, ‘This is a most important reform for South Australia, to hopefully bring a new foundation for nurturing the venue-based live music economy. What is certain is that so much of the good work being done by the South Australian music industry and government would not be able to reach its potential were these laws to remain in place … If we look back to NSW in 2007 and the changes to liquor laws that introduced new bars and licensed restaurants, the key to the activation of these and existing venues for live performance were including associated changes to the building code and planning regulations. It’s therefore greatly encouraging to recognise the ongoing work with government and the Music Industry Council in this area throughout this year, that will also bring new planning regulations to support the Liquor Act reforms into 2016.’
The amendment only applies between 11am and midnight. It was the result of extensive advocacy, including research in Martin Elbourne’s Future of Music in South Australia Report (2013) and a private member’s bill from Greens MLC Tammy Franks.
Earlier this year, the South Australian Music Industry Council, in conjunction with the Music Development Office, the Australian Hotels Association, Adelaide City Council, Musitec, MusicSA and the Live Music Office, submitted a five point plan to the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, addressing the need for changes in liquor licensing, building codes and planning regulations.