Committee recommends lifeline for bush pubs

Liquor licence fees for pubs and clubs in “very remote” Queensland could be slashed by up to 90 per cent in a matter of weeks.

The Liquor (Rural Hotels Concession) Amendment Bill, introduced by State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter, was officially endorsed for the second time on Friday by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.

The committee had also recommended the bill be passed last year, however it lapsed after the 2017 Queensland Election was called and could not proceed.

Mr Katter thanked the committee for its work, and said he was confident the recommendation meant the bill would go through Parliament and become law.

“The only thing that would stop it now is if the Government or Opposition have a brain-snap on the floor of parliament and decide to vote against it,” Mr Katter said.

He said the committee’s determination was an excellent outcome for remote Queensland.

“This point of this bill is to recognise that pubs in remote Queensland operate in vastly different commercial environments than hotels in larger centres,” Mr Katter said.

“For a long time we have needed to move away from a one-size fits all approach and recognise the small operators in remote Queensland and the service they provide to small communities

“These venues are more than just money-making enterprises, they are part of the social fabric of isolated areas.

“These small venues shouldn’t be burdened with the same license cost as a large Brisbane pub which has huge revenues – I am pleased the committee has recognised the importance if this.”

Mr Katter said the recommendation was particularly significant considering only five Private Member’s Bills have been passed by the Queensland Parliament in the last decade – two of them being KAP bills.

“The passing of the Rural Hotels Concession Bill would mean the KAP has passed 50 per cent of the Private Member’s Bills in the last ten years,” he said.

“I would say this is not too bad for a party that has only three out of Parliament’s 93 members.”

Mr Katter said the unrelenting nature of Queensland’s drought meant the bill should be fast-tracked.

“There is good justification for this bill to be brought in quickly as it will assist rural communities who are suffering from the drought,” Mr Katter said.

“I would like to see it addressed during the next Parliament sitting, which is only three weeks away.

“To do this it would require the Government and Opposition to support an urgency motion to bring on the vote.

“Given the drought and struggles facing remote Queensland, I think it’s reasonable to expect they’ll support an urgency motion.”

Around 110 pubs in Queensland will benefit from a reduction in their licence fee from around $3,500 to $350 if Parliament passes the bill.

The bill applies only to licensees operating in “very remote” areas, as is determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ “remoteness” mapping.

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