LIQUOR LICENSING (LIQUOR PRODUCTION AND SALES LICENCE) AMENDMENT BILL

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:54): I rise to support the Liquor Licensing (Liquor Production and Sales Licence) Amendment Bill 2020 and acknowledge that what we are doing here in the main is not allowing supermarkets to sell liquor, which has been a longstanding position in this state.

What we are also not affecting is stores like the Coomandook takeaway bottle shop, which is there with the local general store, and it also does not affect places like Walker Flat or Nildottie either. I recently visited the Walker Flat store, which has the post office and the liquor store there, and, sadly, the owners have it on the market. They may walk away if there is no interest in buying that seven-day-a-week facility to service the local community, which would be a real loss. I am not reflecting on the current owners; it is a tough gig working anything seven days a week and I commend them for that.

Certainly, in relation to the little shop at Coomandook, it is very handy. It is three kilometres from my home, from the farm. You can go in there and pick up a few light refreshments if you so desire and take them home. Certainly, 25 or 30 years ago, when I was working in the shearing sheds, it was very handy to pick up a couple of light refreshments as you went past and you might run into a couple of mates on your way through. Whether it is general stores with attached businesses like that or hotels, as the member for Chaffey, the Minister for Regional Development, was indicating, they are a place for real camaraderie and getting together.

I reflect on what the Minister for Primary Industries was talking about with the Vines disco disappearing. It happens a bit through regional areas. There is a bit of a drop in population or just a change in how things happen, and we have had it happen in my area. I have sadly been around for a few decades now when I have been old enough to drink, but I just want to reflect on a couple of venues—it was the same venue rebadged; I cannot remember which order it was. It was called the Oasis once and then the Ranch (or the other way around), which a licensee who is still in licensed pubs in Adelaide, John Meek, ran between Jervois and Murray Bridge. That was quite the spot to be and there were quite a few live bands out there (it is now a private house), but that sort of went by the wayside over time.

I would just like to reflect for a very short period on John Meek's contribution in the licensing industry and the entertainment industry. He currently runs—or has run; some of the doors are slowly opening—the Black Bull, the Woolshed and Downtown, where he has invested several million dollars to get them up to speed. These venues are licensed for several thousand people all up.

This is obviously part of the issue with COVID. We all understand that while we are working with the corona restrictions people with these large venues are struggling to get them back on their feet. It was easier—I think we have done great work as a government and with the people of South Australia complying with the requirements—when the state basically was shut down, to a degree. It is far easier, it seems, to shut down a state than to open it up.

Even so, I think the Premier and our government are doing a fantastic job in a measured way. At the end of the day, we have to keep people safe and we have to keep people alive. If you look at the worst-case scenarios, what you get is some of the situations that have happened overseas in many countries, including Italy, where the decision was being made that if you were over 60 you did not get a ventilator if you were crook. As I understand it, that was just the blanket decision that was made: if you ended up in hospital, you would not be revived.

I am not saying that was going to happen here; we have done very well here. Sadly, we have lost four people to this virus, but I must commend our front-line people, our health professionals, our health workers and everyone in the field, the police and the government for what they are doing in this crisis.

I note that The Woolshed was slowly opening up the other day. I get a bit of a kick when my 19-year-old son finds out where I am on a Saturday night. I might have been at a function back in the day—not that long ago, pre corona—and he would say, 'What are you doing? Why don't we catch up for a drink?' It is quite good: you go in there, and there are a lot of young people in there from my electorate. There may or may not be a lot of road signs, which for some reason have ended up in the bar, that reflect places around the back of Cooke Plains and Malinong in my electorate. I am not sure they how they got there, but that might be another story. People are always made very welcome.

From what I understand, when the pubs had to shut down, John Meek had 76 kegs that were all on tap and he had to get rid of them. I do not know what he did with them; he might have had to tip them down the drain. But I would just like to acknowledge him. I get that not everyone is into licensed premises, but he has managed to supply entertainment both in my electorate and with what he has going on in Adelaide. There are plenty of struggles with getting liquor licences and working around them. Good on him. He has a fairly red-hot crack and puts everything on the line, I can tell you.

I mentioned this in my maiden speech: about 25 or 30 years ago I was working with a group of other young people between Keith and Geranium, and obviously Coomandook is fairly central to there. I worked with a group running the Sandblasters balls. I was the president for a time, and I was the treasurer. At our peak, we were turning over about $100,000 at these events. It was a challenge, I think, for the authorities on the licensing—and I get that—but they are very contained events. People turn up, you usually have a live band and you pay an all-inclusive fee. There are drinks on the Saturday night, people stay overnight and then there are a few light refreshments on the Sunday.

Sadly, for a range of reasons these events have essentially disappeared from South Australia. I know they had the Stonerollers at Murray Bridge, which is one of the lingerers, and I know Deniliquin still runs a very strong event later in the year.

Mr Teague interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: Denny's still going.

Mr Teague: Goondiwindi's still going.

Mr PEDERICK: Goondiwindi has a function that still goes, I am informed. These are fantastic events in the country.

The main thing that came out of this event that we used to run down there was the fact that we donated tens of thousands of dollars into the community. It was so fantastic to go to places like the school where I spent most of my schooling, Coomandook Area School, and donate something like $5,000 of playground equipment or a different group of CD stackers for Geranium Primary School or something to Tintinara, something to Keith, something to the Coonalpyn area. I know we donated a tank to one community; I think it was at Peake. It was money going back into the community.

I note that there were challenges with the authorities with working through licensing matters. There is nothing more daunting, as a couple of young blokes and a couple of young girls, to go to licensing and be in a room in Adelaide with about 15 or 20 people and going through how the licence was going to work. We did not have to do that all the time, but it was good that we got an outcome where we managed to get the show functioning.

I do not think they were called superintendents at the time, but over time I have caught up with John Atwood, who was the equivalent of the police superintendent of the area. He was based in Murray Bridge, and we have some quiet, cordial conversations about how we used to work together on making this function work for both of us. I did reflect one day that it might have been a bit easier dealing with us than the Hells Angels at Ponde, and I think he agreed with me.

That was a great time, but things disappear. There is a bit of a dearth of options for young people in Murray Bridge at the moment as far as entertainment venues go. It has been that way for a while, and I know that is reflected to me by even some of my staff talking to me. I guess it is only an hour up the road to Adelaide, but people have to stay somewhere and that sort of thing. But, as I indicated, back in the day there was a bit on. There was the community club happening and then people would end up down the road.

There may be an option. We have three hotels and a community club in Murray Bridge now: we have got the Swanport, Karen Milesi's Murray Bridge Hotel, but we have the Bridgeport, who are finally—and during this crisis—doing a major rebuild to build something fairly similar to the new Port Lincoln Hotel. That is the new Bridgeport Hotel right on the edge of the river and it will be a fantastic venue in the future. It is owned by the Tregoning group. It is about a $40 million build with six storeys and 99 rooms of four-star accommodation.

I have had people reflect to me that they hope they have something that can keep the young ones there on weekends and have a bit of local entertainment because it is needed. We have taxi services and all that sort of thing to make sure that people can get home and do the right thing. People look for entertainment. As we come out of the coronavirus, it is just so good to go to a venue. A week ago tonight, I went around to the Strathmore hoping that I could walk in—I think it was 10 plus 10 licence rules then—to see if I could get a meal at a hotel. I said I was on my own and they said that was alright. You realise that just the opportunity to go somewhere is fantastic.

The next day I had lunch across the road at 2KW up on the roof and that was good as well. It was just nice to get back to a bit of normality, as we have all had to retreat into our caves for a while. That is the reality of what life has been. I genuinely wish the venue owners, whether they own restaurants, small bars or especially those who operate big venues, like John Meek, keep going and find a way through this crisis.

I know there has been a lot of support through JobKeeper from the federal government and support obviously from us and the Attorney-General varying licences to make room in outside venues so that we can do our best with the 80 maximum now and 20 per area. That will slowly ease up over time. I understand that publicans and venues want to hastily open up these venues. I absolutely get that, but at the end of the day we have to do it in a measured way so that we do not have a breakout, because if we have breakout all of a sudden we will have to swing the clamps back on and we will have a real problem with corona rearing its ugly head again.

I also want to talk about some of the venues and places throughout my electorate. We have many hotels from Pinnaroo to Milang. I mentioned the hotels in Murray Bridge and there are also clubs there. The new horseracing club is a fantastic venue. The new greyhound club is a great venue. There are many smaller clubs, such as the footy clubs, the bowling clubs and that sort of thing. At Tailem Bend, we have the railway hotel and the Riverside overlooking the river. If you get down my way, there is the Peake Tavern and the Lameroo Community Hotel, and in Pinnaroo you have the Golden Grain and the Pinnaroo Hotel.

In fact, there was an amusing story that I have told here before so I will give a fairly abridged version. We were down there as part of the select committee into grain harvesting in 2011. We thought we would go to the Pinnaroo Hotel for dinner. We came in unannounced, which was a bit of a problem. They said, 'We have a few schnitzels. We will get them on the go.' They cooked them up and then realised they were one short. To his great credit, the member for Chaffey and I decided we would go half each on a schnitzel so we could make sure the Labor members, the other Liberal member and the crossbench member from the committee could get a full schnitzel.

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan: So bipartisan.

Mr PEDERICK: So bipartisan. The love was in the room. It is something that occasionally we reflect on. The member for Mawson and the member for Frome were there. It comes up with a bit of jocularity over time. It probably did not hurt me at the time, I must say, to only have half a schnitzel. They are the things we do in the Mallee.

I want to reflect on some of the other things they do in the country, like the Geranium bowling club, where I started bowling over 30 years ago at Night Owls. Now that I have been the president of the South Australian Parliamentary Bowling Club for a few years, I probably should have started bowling 40 years ago and I might have been better. Night bowls is a great way for country people to get together—well, anyone, it does not have to be in the country. I think night bowls is a great way for people to get into the game, and there are a lot of younger people bowling.

I think this is a move in the right direction. What we are doing with these amendments is addressing deficiencies that have been identified with the new liquor production and sales licence category and to reinforce our long-held position that alcohol should not be readily available in supermarkets. It amends this licence category to state that the licensed premises must not be comprised of premises ordinarily known or advertised as a supermarket, convenience store or delicatessen, and provide for a discretion that further premises can be prescribed.

The bill makes a transitional provision to ensure that the amendments to this licence category will apply to licences already granted and to existing applications. It also seeks to address a loophole under this licence provision that allows businesses to sell liquor that they have not produced through direct sales transactions, such as online sales or by mail order.

It is proposed to limit the sale of liquor by direct sales transactions to the licensee's product only, except where the sale is by wholesale or where liquor is sold in quantities of 4.5 litres or more. The proposed amendment would ensure that an LPS licence is only granted to genuine liquor producers and wholesalers. Additionally, the bill includes an amendment to expand the circumstances where a person can seek a review of a decision made by the commissioner with the permission of the Licensing Court.

With the few minutes left, I want to also reflect on the great wineries throughout this state. The other day I mentioned in another speech how good our wineries are in this state and how Langhorne Creek sometimes gets overlooked. It is a fantastic winegrowing region in my electorate, with hundreds and hundreds of hectares of vineyards. These people here have had to adjust their systems regarding licensing arrangements and whether they can be open or not. I commend them all for what they are doing, but I want to acknowledge a couple of them.

I know a lot of work is going into different facilities at different wineries in my electorate. Lake Breeze at Langhorne Creek is building a new function centre and Bremerton is doing a fairly sizeable expansion, and that will enhance the opportunities in the region as well. There is a whole swag of wineries: Bleasdale has been around since day dot, essentially, and Angas Plains Wines and a whole range of others contribute to the local area. They have had it tough. I know they have ramped up the online sales, and that has been very handy for a lot of them, and things are opening up as we come out of the coronavirus restrictions.

There are lot of different licence categories and that has caused a few issues in regard to how things have opened up over time. I want to commend the government in that, as we saw there were gaps needing to be filled, we worked through some of those issues. There is a whole range of licence, including:

  • short-term liquor licences;
  • small venue liquor licences;
  • club liquor licences;
  • packaged liquor sales licences;
  • short-term five-year liquor licences;
  • residential liquor licences;
  • wine export licences;
  • event endorsement for short-term five-year licences;
  • liquor production and sales licences;
  • on-premises liquor licences;
  • general and hotel liquor licences; and
  • restaurant and catering liquor licences.

It is a mixed space and there are real reasons for that. I think we have had some real outcomes moving forward, getting people back into venues, whether it is a small shop like the one in Coomandook, where they sell off the premises, or a small bar in the city, or a place like the East End Cellars (and Michael Andrewartha was one of my classmates at Urrbrae back in the late seventies; it is a bit scary when you reflect on how long ago that was), or a hotel or restaurant. I commend everyone for hanging in there and now getting on board, working through all the restrictions and doing all the right things so that we can enjoy these venues into the future.