Labor’s Inaction Robs Outback Pubs of Christmas Cheer

Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar is furious that the State Labor Government’s decision to take an early Christmas break has meant vital legislation to help struggling outback pubs will be left until next year.

Mr Millar, whose electorate spans much of central and western Queensland, says that Labor’s laziness means outback pubs will have to wait until 2019 for their licence fee reductions.

“The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee recommended passing the Liquor (Rural Hotels Concession) Amendment Bill introduced by Traeger MP Robbie Katter.” Mr Millar said.

“This Bill is a win for all rural Queenslanders - around 110 rural pubs will benefit from a reduction of their liquor licencing fees by around 90%.

“It’s ultimately about fairness – the Yaraka Hotel or the Union Hotel in Blackall doesn’t have anywhere near the same patronage as the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane or the Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton.”

Mr Millar said the Bill was heralded by everyone as a win for common-sense and it should be passed with urgency.
“Instead it has sat on the Notice Paper awaiting debate since September,” he said.

“Actions speak louder than words. By cancelling the last sitting week of parliament so they can take an early Christmas break, the Palaszczuk Government shows its disdain for small business in regional Queensland.”

The Liquor (Rural Hotels Concession) Amendment Bill 2018 would see pubs in locations classified as “Very Remote Australia” pay around $350 a year for their licence, down from $3,600. It was first put to Parliament before the 2017 State election.

“Labor dragged their heels on this Bill in the last Parliament. Then they let it lapse over the State election. Now it seems they are playing the same trick again,” Mr Millar said.

“Rural pubs are more than a place to have a beer – they are essential to a viable community. They are the meeting and function place, the local restaurant and the first destination for tourists.

“These pubs are doing it tough with a prolonged drought affecting their incomes. Despite record-high electricity prices, they must run their cold-rooms before they even sell one beer. Their license fees should reflect their location.

“The Labor Party needs to explain to rural Queenslanders why it won’t deal with such a clear-cut issue” Mr Millar said.

Parliament resumes in twelve weeks on the 12th February, 2019.

• Small Pubs Bill was initially put to a Parliamentary Committee in the 55th Parliament, but due to the 2017 State election, lapsed.
• Bill was recommended by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee in October to be passed
• The Bill will reduce licencing fees for around 110 rural pubs to 10% of their Brisbane competitors
• By cancelling the last sitting week for 2018 – Labor has elected to take a longer Christmas break rather than back these vital rural pubs.