Mood change in council on grog issues?

UPDATE, October 23, 2012, 6.00pm: Councillors were asked for a show of hands on supporting the recommendation before them, which was to not object to the application to Gaming and Licensing from NT Rock Bar to extend its trading hours. Because this meeting was a committee meeting, the vote had to be unanimous to have effect. As only three councillors voted in favour of the recommendation, a decision was deferred to the Ordinary meeting next Monday. In the meantime, council has requested from  Gaming and Licensing an extension  to the deadline for comment on the application. Such extensions have been granted in the past, says CEO Rex Mooney but this afternoon council still had not had a reply. Council’s decision on whether to object or not object to the application will be conveyed in any case on October 30, the day after their Ordinary meeting.

 

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Is the mood changing within the Town Council on the issues of alcohol availability in Alice Springs? I’m not talking about radical change but in a show of hands last night only three councillors supported [ED – a recommendnation to not object to] an application  by The NT Rock Bar to extend its trading hours by one hour each night, to 2am. Those councillors were Chansey Paech, Brendan Heenan and Geoff Booth.

 

NT Gaming and Licensing had written to council seeking comment on the application, a fairly routine course of action. The “default” recommendation from officers was not to object. Director of Corporate and Community Services Craig Catchlove explained that council never “supports”, it only objects or does not object.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan (at right) immediately indicated that he did not support the application. Councillor Eli Melky said he “probably agrees with the Mayor”. He said alcohol is “a major issue” in town, he would like to see council “work through” the issue and “do our part”.

 

Cr Jade Kudrenko, in the chair, asked Mayor Ryan to explain his view further. He said he simply did not see the need to extend the hours.

 

In the meantime, council will write to NT Gaming and Licensing about the short notice they are given for commenting on applications. Typically it does not allow time for council’s meeting cycle, which sees the committee meeting mid-month sending matters forward to the formal  “ordinary” meeting at the end of the month.

 

RELATED READING:

 

More must be done to restrict the flow of alcohol to those who abuse it, says Chief Justice

 

Gapview knocked back a second time on extended hours for Masters Games grog trade

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted October 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Re your October 18 post, you raise a very good point Hal Duell. The casino (and gambling in general) in your ‘back yard’ is seen as a sacred cow and it very difficult to challenge the status quo even with the most objective of eyes.
    On this matter your opinion is refreshing. Good luck.
    Regards, David Chewings aka THE lone dingo

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  2. Hal Duell
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    The issue last Monday night was the Rock Bar’s application to extend its trading hours from 1am to 2am.
    Montes just down the street advertises its hours from 11am till late. Not sure how late is late.
    Bojangles, next door to the Rock Bar is open, I think, until 4am.
    So I’m with those Councillors who do not object to the Rock Bar staying open an extra hour.
    But where I do agree with Mayor Ryan is in wondering why gambling licenses, or changes to existing licenses, are not subject to public debate.
    Or are they?
    If they are, then why wasn’t Council asked for its opinion?

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  3. Kieran Finnane
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    The casino’s application in March 2011 was to extend trading by one hour on Friday and Saturday nights, from 3am closing to 4am closing. The NTG’s Licensing and Regulation sought council’s views. Council officers recommended that aldermen not object as the extended hours were not seen as adversely affecting the amenity of the neighbourhood nor the “health, education, public safety or social conditions in the community”. This reasoning seems to have been accepted by the majority. The minutes do not record any dissent. Our report on the issue, dated April 14, 2011, shows that the application “was enthusiastically supported by Aldermen Samih Habib, Murray Stewart and Eli Melky”. Mayor Ryan on this occasion was more concerned about the casino’s plans to increase the number of poker machines at the venue and “stressed his frustration that council is asked for its views on liquor issues but not on gambling, which he thinks does present a real concern for the town”.

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  4. Vicki Gillick
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:58 am

    NT Licensing Commission decisions (and reasons for decisions) can be found on its website:

    http://www.nt.gov.au/justice/commission/decisions.shtml
    Go through the alphabetical list to find the one you want to read.

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    @Leigh Childs
    The Gapview had an application to vary its take-away trading hours extended. Unless I’m mistaken, the Casino would have asked for an extension of its on-site trading hours. I’m not sure they even do take-away.
    Big difference, although if you follow Bob’s advise and ask the commission, it would be interesting to hear their reply.

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  6. Bob Durnan
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Leigh (Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm) – I very much doubt that either the Town Council or the Licensing Commission is going to start replying to questions posed in the comments section of the Alice Springs News Online. However, in the past the Licensing Commission has been very responsive to direct enquires, which is probably what you need to do if you want your second question answered.

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  7. Leigh Childs
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Did the recent successful application for extended hours by the casino also go through Council? Why was it allowed, when a smaller venue has its application knocked back?

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I fully support council’s unanimous decision to write a letter to NT Gaming and Licensing asking for sufficient time for council’s meeting cycle to take place before the deadline for their objections, if any, to be conveyed to the commission.
    For some years now liquor license applications have been presented to council’s mid-month committee meetings with their decision to object or not expected before the ordinary meeting at the end of the month. Council doesn’t work that way. Recommendations are made in the mid-month meetings, and formally ratified at the end of the month.
    If the commission is serious about asking council’s opinion, then they can give them enough time to form one.

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