Ru­ral pubs un­der pres­sure

Calls for La­bor to slash li­cenc­ing fees

Central Telegraph - - NEWS - Zhanae Con­way-Dodd Zhanae.Con­way-Dodd@cap­

BILOELA’S Top Pub owner Peter Law pays $11,000 for his com­mer­cial ho­tel li­cence per year.

Fac­tor in $6000 to $7000 in elec­tric­ity costs each month plus $5000 for ser­vic­ing of the gam­ing ma­chines and then add on $12,000 every six months for rates.

It all adds up pretty quickly for a small ru­ral pub. So why are th­ese busi­nesses pay­ing the same amount for their com­mer­cial ho­tel li­cences as es­tab­lish­ments in the cen­tre of Bris­bane?

Shadow At­tor­ney-Gen­eral David Janet­zki and Mem­ber for Gre­gory Lach­lan Mil­lar toured ru­ral Queens­land pubs last week in a bid for the state gov­ern­ment to re­duce li­cenc­ing which cur­rently sit at $3600 plus.

Mr Mil­lar said the is­sue wasn’t a new one with the Kat­ter Party ini­ti­at­ing a bill to re­duce the cost for small ru­ral pubs down to $360 a year.

“How­ever the gov­ern­ment has dragged their heels on the is­sue since it was in­tro­duced in March 2017,” he said.

Mr Janet­zki said it was “de­spi­ca­ble” to think the State Gov­ern­ment would be stalling on a bill which would di­rectly ben­e­fit pubs through­out ru­ral Queens­land that are al­ready strug­gling un­der the pres­sure of a num­ber of is­sues.

“Ru­ral pubs are more than a place to have a beer; they are the com­mu­nity meet­ing place, the lo­cal restau­rant, the first des­ti­na­tion for tourists and a vi­tal part of any lo­cal com­mu­nity,” he said.

Mr Law said that the town sup­port for the Biloela pub was strong but costs across the board were the is­sues hurt­ing the busi­ness the most.

“It’s the li­cence fees, the elec­tric­ity and the rates that are hard­est,” he said.

“In the win­ter months elec­tric­ity sets us back $6000 and in the sum­mer months it sets us back $7000 and that is mostly air-con­di­tion­ing and then on top of the costs you’ve got 12 to 18 hours a day.”

Mr Law said the lo­cal yearly power sta­tion shut­down gave Top Pub the ex­tra boost it needed every year.

“It is good to have that boost when the shut­down of the power sta­tion hap­pens be­cause the blokes who come out here for it stay in the rooms up­stairs,” he said.

With the shut­down of the power sta­tion be­gin­ning next month nearly all rooms above the pub will be full with pay­ing guests. This means the busi­ness will see an ex­tra $10,000 or so a month in ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“At the mo­ment I only have one bloke here and we have 22 rooms,” Mr Law said.

“But we al­ready have peo­ple booked into rooms for the shut­down and they started ar­riv­ing last Sun­day.”

How­ever when the power sta­tion shut­down fin­ishes and the men go home, Mr Law said it was a mat­ter of re­ly­ing on the gam­ing sec­tion of the busi­ness.

“We are very strong into gam­ing which keeps us go­ing, bar trade is av­er­age – it just needs that boost – and we are go­ing to get that in the next three months any­way with the shut­down of the power sta­tion.”

When is comes to scal­ing back the li­cenc­ing fees, the pro­posed changes would af­fect 110 ru­ral pubs, mean­ing a loss of around $300,000 in State Gov­ern­ment rev­enue.

“When the Gov­ern­ment can find $17.3 mil­lion for a new bike track in South Bris­bane, surely they can af­ford to sup­port th­ese ru­ral pubs at a cost of less than two per cent of the bike track,” Mr Janet­zki said.

“It just shows whether we’re talk­ing about seal­ing vi­tal roads, pro­vid­ing ba­sic health­care ser­vices or sup­port­ing our ru­ral pubs, this Gov­ern­ment shows ut­ter con­tempt for ru­ral Queens­lan­ders,” Mr Mil­lar added af­ter their tour of coun­try pubs.

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