By ERWIN CHLANDA
Good-bye NT Licensing Commission, hello Director-General of Licensing.
The town council last night had a presentation from him, Sean Parnell, a former senior police officer in Alice Springs, noted for his cheerful personality and his many contacts in the community.
He’s taking over from a much criticised commission that, although consisting of volunteers, cost the taxpayer $800,000 a year.
It was too “cumbersome, unwieldy, took too long to process” even simple licences, said Mr Parnell. “Cutting red tape” is the objective.
He told the councilors that the changes, which took effect on January 1, have also ushered in “new mechanisms for appeal and safeguards”.
Previously any appeals against commission decisions were dealt with by the commission. This put in into the “anomalous” position of reviewing its own decisions, he said.
Now complaints will be considered in the first instance by the new Director-General, but the public would have a further opportunity to complain, namely to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Mr Parnell said decisions by the Director-General would in part be guided by precedent, as was the case with the commission, but the process would be faster and streamlined.
Occupations licensed include motor vehicle dealers, travel agents, incorporated associations, real estate, business and conveyancing agents, plumbers, builders and electricians.
Cr Chansey Paech asked Mr Parnell whether more licences for take-away alcohol had been applied for, after last year’s lifting of a moratorium.
Mr Parnell said “six or so” licenses had been applied for.
Had more pokies been applied for following the raising of the cap? None had been, said Mr Parnell.
He said the new system had put in place a “more rigorous” process of checking the effect on the community of licenses granted.
For example, it won’t be sufficient for the applicant to provide his own impact statement, as it was adequate under the old system.
They would now need to be supplied by independent people, would need to be “a lot more in depth” and as a result, would cost more.
The views of police and the town council would be sought about impact on the community. There will be more consultation than before, said Mr Parnell, “not just advertising”.
Would there be changes to town camps being dry areas, asked Cr Paech?
This would need the concurrence of the residents, said Mr Parnell, and the Federal Government would have a say in it.
Cr Jade Kudrenko asked whether there were proposed changes in the licensing of prostitution.
Mr Parnell said there would be “no changes without consultation,” police and the council would be asked for their views and a discussion paper released.
Meanwhile it’s back to the drawing board for the cemetery chapel.
Following a mixed reaction by councillors to her first design, architect Susan Dugdale last night presented alternatives (drawings at top and above), including one with a triangular floor plan and a tower.
Large rear doors would allow the mourners at a big funeral to spill outdoors.
The chapel would not be air-conditioned but it’s height, ceiling fans and a flow-through design would provide some comfort on hot days.
There would be much use of natural light.
A family room, a space for a crematorium and a “niche wall” where urns can be placed are also features of the new designs. They will be considered by the council.
By ERWIN CHLANDA