Last night, if you were out and about in Sydney, you may have just heard at various pubs (under the constant dissonance of doof doof music and pokies) members of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) crying in the beers. The reason is that the Iemma government have proposed major changes to NSW licensing laws. The main one being liquor licence fees dropping to between 500 and 2000 dollars. A victory for the people of NSW as well as for Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore who has been pushing for the changes.
A move away from the pokie supported beer barns and to smaller boutique bars is to be welcomed. Of course the AHA are unhappy as they now have some competition. They are already claiming that it will lead to a rise in alcohol related violence. David Elliott, the deputy chief executive of the AHA also has concerns regarding Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) provisions What the AHA forgets is they have been the main culprits in promoting and supporting a drinking culture that facilitates alcohol related problems. And anyone who has been to a busy pub on a Friday or Saturday will note how difficult it is to enforce RSA regulations in large venues.
To belabour a point, what the AHA and others (such as Adam Shand as noted by tigtog), fail to understand is that not everyone who wants a drink needs to also puke and get into a fight in between a flutter on the pokies. The target clientele for the smaller boutique bars will tend towards those that want to avoid such a scene.
Pubs will still be around as they have their place, especially in smaller communities, and there are still a few pubs that have avoided the pitfalls of other venues. But for many who would like a nice place for a drink on a friday night and not be assaulted by pokies and pissed patrons, change is gonna come.