Rural pubs under pressure
Calls for Labor to slash licencing fees
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.