Premier: I thank the member for Sydney for the first question I have had today from someone who is not a government member. Sydney is a wonderful and vibrant city—I would say the best city in the world.
Clover Moore MP: My question to the Premier relates to the unintended consequences of the removal of the place of public entertainment licences that could lead to patron capacity increases and venue morphing, particularly in liquor-free zones. What action will the Premier take to ensure the continuing role of councils in the approval process?
Speaker: Order! Members on both sides of the House will come to order.
Premier: Notwithstanding that, the Government continues to explore and develop strategies to make it an even greater place to live or to visit. We are doing that in partnership with the City of Sydney. As the member is aware, last October the State Government concluded reforms that remove the need for a development consent, generally known as POPE or a place of public entertainment licence, if the business plans to put on public entertainment. In the past, these development consents stopped entertainment such as pianists in bars, readings in cafes or a conservatorium choir singing in church. It provided a significant disincentive to venues engaging live performers. Our changes have encouraged an increase in live music performances across the State. More performance opportunities are available for musicians. The Minister for Arts can rightly take some credit for endorsing these changes. These changes are not just in the City of Sydney but also right across New South Wales.
In the past, these places of public entertainment licences too often translated into costly and unnecessary building upgrades. Councils required venues such as local bowling clubs to install expensive building improvement works in order for talented entertainers to provide entertainment for their customers. They were also charged annual renewal and associated inspection fees. This had the effect of causing many premises to abandon any plans to provide entertainment for their customers, stifling the development of our local entertainment industry. The places of public entertainment licensing system places premises that wish to provide entertainment to their customers on a level playing field with four other businesses in relation to planning regulation. These businesses will continue to comply with the requirements of the development consents but they no longer have to seek annual renewals of additional licences to carry out their normal businesses.
Councils continue to have the role of determining development applications for new premises in which entertainment is to be provided, such as pubs, registered clubs and restaurants, including regulating the hours of operation and the capacity of the venue. Councils continue to have the power to issue orders requiring compliance with development consents. Importantly, they can also issue orders if they are concerned about potential public safety risks. However, these entertainment reforms are not about regulating the sale of liquor at these premises or the behaviour of patrons at premises caused by the consumption of alcohol. Rather, these matters are addressed under the Liquor Act, which commenced in July 2008, and enables more effective policing of our licensed venues.
Speaker: Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber.
Premier: The member for Sydney has raised an important issue. These reforms target the behaviour of patrons consuming alcohol at venues. The issues that underpin the member's concerns relate to these behaviours and our liquor reforms address that.
Speaker: Order! The member for Upper Hunter and the member for Baulkham Hills will come to order.
Premier: Many in the entertainment and arts industries welcome the places of public entertainment reform. It delivers for New South Wales a reduction of red tape, making it easier for restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to host live entertainment such as music events, poetry readings and comedy nights; provides more opportunities for musicians and other entertainers to perform; provides more entertainment choices for New South Wales patrons; and provides a vibrant music scene in New South Wales and a level playing field where live music is on an equal footing with other types of entertainment such as sporting matches and trivia nights. We have already seen the benefits this has brought to our local entertainment industry. I am sure the member for Sydney will agree with me that this is good for business, it is good for tourism and it is good for patrons of live music venues.