This afternoon, Terrace Bar owner Chris Hearn, along with The Greens’ Adam Bandt and local councillor Michael Osborne, held a media conference in Newcastle Mall.
As widely publicised in Newcastle media, Mr Hearn has shut the Terrace Bar to protest against what he considers to be onerous and unjust conditions placed upon the premises by the State Government’s Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR). At the conference, Mr Hearn outlined the changes he believes are needed to allow local small businesses to flourish and help rejuvenate Newcastle’s night time economy.
Mr Hearn recently refuted police claims that onerous conditions for small bars were necessary because such bars were ‘feeders’ to later trading venues. He points out that this actually wouldn’t be the case if small bars were allowed to trade after midnight – this would mean that patrons could enjoy smaller, safer venues longer and actually improve Newcastle’s night-time activity.
Below is an excerpt of the key issues from his statement today.
“According to internal reports the Newcastle Solution has had the effect of curbing violence through an overall decrease in assaults totalling approximately 37%. Essentially, this means that 63% of the assaults are still happening in or outside of the existing late-trading Pubs and Clubs (commonly referred to as “Booze-Barns”) for whom the Newcastle Solution was tabled for, but who still are able to trade past midnight and to a latest closing time of 3am.”
“In the past year alone, I have had five bar-staff relocate out of Newcastle, four of whom to Melbourne, to find employment in a city that safely drinks.”
“I have raised the issue of fighting these conditions, especially the condition regarding the sale of Cocktails after 1Opm with a number of other Small Bar and Licensed Restaurant owners. Many of them are supporting me in this move, but some have informed me that I simply need to “wear the conditions”, and then “look after the Police, and they’ll turn the other way”. I do not know what this means, but having closely followed the recent ICAC hearings, I wouldn’t be surprised if it looks like what it sounds like.”
“This is not about dobbing people in for breaking the law – these conditions are anticompetitive,and are the dystopian end of creating a police state, or nanny state, that is effectively denying everyone of their rights.”
“We have allowed this handful of people the power to control Newcastle for too long. The Newcastle Liquor Accord and the Newcastle Licensing Police have proven to have no interest in culture, safety and the sale of quality products.”
Mr Hearn also listed some demands during his statement which are quoted below.
“Institutionalisation of a new collective voice of small, safe and community orientated venues via a new Liquor Accord to cover small bars, general bars, licensed restaurants and community oriented clubs.”
“Full representation from above Liquor Accord, and removal of licensing conditions that require licensees to be part of existing Liquor Accords that are largely made up of and deeded by the licensees of Newcastle’s late trading “problem venues”.”
“Active representation from the NSW State Government and Newcastle City Council in the new accord and support for licensees in negotiating with the NSW licensing police regarding conditions that are to be added to their licenses.”
“Removal of conditions regarding security guard on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights without the addition of any new license conditions.”
“Written support from Council and local State Government representatives in the application to increase the overall trading hours of The Terrace Bar.”
Mr Hearn also made several recommendations. We have extracted a few we thought may be of interest to you below.
“Decrease in the licensing control over small bars, general bars, licensed restaurants and clubs who have proven to be community orientated safe spaces that are free of violence”
“Study of measures that have been taken by other cities to start and stimulate a diverse and safe night time economy.”
“Increase trading hours for licensees following a probation period of safe trading.”
“Decrease trading hours of, and increase licensing control over repeat-offender venues.”
“Removal of all anti competitive conditions which negatively affect the ability of struggling small hospitality businesses to trade in certain areas of their premises or at certain times of their business.”
We want to point out here that the views and demands made above are not representative of the views of Newcastle Live or any affiliated organisation. We believed that what Mr Hearn said in his statement would be of interest to the Newcastle Live community. We hope to have an exclusive interview with Mr Hearn over the next few days to put a few questions to him about the closure of The Terrace Bar and his statement to the media today.