PUB SUPPORT: Lachlan Millar, David Janetzki and Chris Turner at the Union Hotel, Blackall, are backing cheaper licencing charges for rural pubs.
PUB SUPPORT: Lachlan Millar, David Janetzki and Chris Turner at the Union Hotel, Blackall, are backing cheaper licencing charges for rural pubs. Contributed

Struggling western QLD pubs seeking a fair go on charges

A PUSH is on to give embattled Western Queensland pubs cheaper licensing fees than their city peers.

Member For Gregory Lachlan Millar has taken up the cause of challenging the unfair licencing charges for rural pubs who were already struggling with the effects of the drought.

Currently rural pubs pay the same for their licence as a pub in Rockhampton, Townsville or Brisbane.

Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki joined Mr Millar on a tour Western Queensland pubs this week to discuss the unfair commercial hotel licencing rates charged to rural Queensland pubs.

While Western Queensland was struggling under seven years of unending drought, small pubs in towns like Blackall, Isisford and Yaraka are paying upwards of $3,600 a year for their commercial hotel licence.

"Amazingly, the Yaraka Hotel, with a population of 12 and a total catchment of just 117 people, pays the same amount for their licence as the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane, with a population of over two million,” Mr Millar said.

"This isn't a new issue however, with the Katter Party initiating a bill to reduce the cost for small rural pubs down to $360 a year.

"However, the Government has dragged their heels on the issue since it was introduced in March 2017, all the while Western Queensland pubs are doing it tough.”

Shadow Attorney-General, David Janetzki, accused the State Government of stalling on this bill, which will directly benefit pubs throughout rural Queensland that were already struggling.

"Rural pubs are more than a place to have a beer - they are the community meeting place, the local restaurant, the first destination for tourists and a vital part of any local community,” Mr Janetzki said.

"The Liberal National Party supports doing everything we can to help rural Queenslanders and all we want is for Labor to take the hand break off and help these rural towns.

"The proposed changes would affect around 110 rural pubs, with a loss of around $300,000 in State government revenue.

A spokesperson for the Queensland Attorney General said due to the election, the bill needed to be resubmitted to be considered by the new government.

"The State Government is currently considering the Liquor (Rural Hotels Concession) Bill which was introduced to Parliament on 2 May 2018. The Bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, which is the normal process for a bill of this nature, and done according to standard timelines.

"The Committee will consider the bill according to its remit, and is due to report by 5 November 2018."

A spokesperson for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation said the Queensland Government understood that some licensees were being significantly affected by the drought.

"In this regard, licensees who were unable to pay their licence fees by 31 July due to hardship suffered because of a natural disaster, were able to apply to pay their licence fee by instalments,” the spokesperson said.

"This financial year there have been a number of drought-affected licensees who have been approved to pay their licence fee in this manner.”