See UPDATE 10.40am Tuesday at the bottom of this page.
BREAKING NEWS: The Liquor Commission yesterday (Sunday) granted the Golf Club a license to sell full strength, mid strength and light beer, still and sparkling wine and pre mixed UDL spirits at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Masters Games.
Left: Opening ceremony, 2016.
Stand by for more.
While there has been wide-spread public criticism of the Liquor Commission’s handling of the applications to run a bar, its Acting Deputy Chairperson, Russell Goldflam, said today that the two applicants had failed to make the applications on time, namely within the statutory period of three months before the event.
He also said the police, which had asked that only light or medium beer should be sold, had failed to substantiate their request, which the commission declined.
The Alice Springs Golf Club, having decided on Friday to pull out, is having an emergency meeting at 5.30pm today to reconsider the decision, says manager Lyn Howse.
She says never on previous occasions had the club been required to make the application three months before the date of the function.
In fact it was well after that deadline that Masters Games had advised the Golf Club that its request – made in March – to run the bar again had been approved.
Immediately after that, says Ms Howse, she had made the application to the Licensing Commission which had accepted submission of the application, as well as the fee for it.
But Mr Goldflam (right), one of the commission’s two Alice Springs members, said in the decision notice published today the Golf Club had not applied for an extension of time.
Ms Howse said, relying on experience over past years, she had no idea she had to.
“The failure of the applicant to lodge its application on time and without displaying either the courtesy or common sense of seeking to explain or excuse the delay, is of concern to the Commission,” writes Mr Goldflam.
“Preparation of the brief by Licensing NT for presentation to the Liquor Commission was complicated by the similarly late submission – and subsequent late withdrawal – of an application on behalf of the Alice Springs Apex Club to operate one of the two Anzac Oval bars proposed for these events.
“The Commission notes that the long-standing former practice of two separate licensees operating at the Alice Springs Masters Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which has been a source of discussion and debate for some years, was an arrangement which may have given rise to a higher level of risk management for the licensees,” writes Mr Goldflam.
“Although the Commission makes no comment as to the merits of the abandoned Apex Club application (which it has not been provided with), the withdrawal of the Apex Club application has simplified the task of the Liquor Commission in determining this matter.
“The Commission commends the Apex Club for taking a carefully and responsibly considered approach to the assessment of risk posed by having two licensees at these events, which in turn led it to withdraw its application.”
Mr Goldflam made it clear that the failures of the Golf Club, which included also failure to provide the number and names of security persons, would be tolerated in view of the event’s significance for the town and its economy.
He wrote in the notice: “On this occasion, after serious consideration, the Commission has decided to waive compliance with the three month notice requirement, having regard to the following matters:
• The events are of major significance to the local economy.
• The events enjoy broad community support.
• The events are sponsored and supported by the Northern Territory Government through the Department of Tourism and Culture, which has overall responsibility for organisation of the Alice Springs Masters Games.
• The applicant has a generally good record of compliance with licensing requirements for these events in previous years.
About the police request that the only liquor to be sold at these events should be mid-strength or light beer Mr Goldflam writes: “NT Police have not sought to substantiate this submission by either advancing reasons or citing evidence.
“The licence conditions proposed by NT Police would, if imposed, be significantly more restrictive than the conditions imposed on the applicant in relation to similar previous events.
“The Commission considers that in order to impose such significantly restrictive changes, it would require provision of material tending to establish to the Commission’s satisfaction that the conditions previously imposed are inconsistent with or unsupportive of the objects of the [Liquor] Act, and in particular the primary object of harm minimisation set out in the Act.
“The only justification for the submission on this issue provided by NT Police is their assertion that ‘Alice Springs Police only support mid-strength or light beer at all events’.
“This assertion is incorrect: NT Police have not always or consistently adopted this position. For example, NT Police did not oppose the sale of full strength beer at the August / September 2018 Red Centre NATS event at Blatherskite Park.
“Nevertheless, it is the case that in 2018 NT Police have frequently adopted this position in relation to applications for similar special licences, giving the appearance that the proposed restriction is put forward as a general police policy stance, rather than as a response based on an individualised assessment of the merits of an application.
“The Commission is not assisted by being confronted with an apparent policy position unsupported by argument, evidence or reference to recognised best practice standards,” writes Mr Goldflam.
“The Commission has made similar observations about this matter in several Decision Notices it has issued in 2018.
“NT Police have now been repeatedly placed on notice about this by the Commission: unless the apparent policy position taken by NT Police is supported by properly articulated reference to argument, evidence and reference to recognised best practice standards, the Commission is unlikely to give the police submission substantial weight in determining applications for special licences.”
UPDATE 10.40am Tuesday: The Golf Club says after emergency meetings last night and this morning that it is “working with the NT Government to make the event work”. However, the club has been asked by the government to make no further comment so it – the government – could make the announcement in a press release at lunchtime.
UPDATE 2.40am Wednesday: Golf Club states it is “happy to be proceeding with the bar under the terms and conditions of the licence that has been granted”.