South Australia’s reputation as a festival state under threat from liquor licence fee hike

South Australian liquor licence fees are set to skyrocket by up to 600 per cent for some late-night Adelaide entertainment venues.

The South Australian Government says the proposed new liquor licensing fees will raise $3 million without affecting the city’s nightlife.

However, former Adelaide Festival director David Sefton described it as a “cash grab”, saying it threatened to damage SA’s reputation as a festival and events state.

“SA is known as the Festival State. What we should be doing is nurturing and supporting it, not penalising it,” he said.

“It feels just counterintuitive, counter productive and actively destructive to price it out of existence.”

Some venues are already considering whether it is now viable to stay open past 2:00am, saying the move will kill Adelaide’s increasingly vibrant late night culture.

Speaking to the ABC, bar worker Millie Hopkins is looking to rally support to fight the changes which she fears will create a form of lockout laws.

“We have seen what’s happened to Sydney’s nightlife over the past few years in the increase to relatively harsh liquor licensing laws and it is something that we don’t want to happen in South Australia,” she said.

“A lot of the clubs that we do have here have been able to secure quite a large number of international talent that have been able to play and perform at them.

“Long term, if we’re going to create an environment where we can’t bring in these acts, we can’t be promoting ourselves as a very music state.”

Lotus Lounge @Facebook.

Lotus Lounge owner Brett Stewart says his fees would jump from $3,500 per year to $16,500 in June next year under the proposed licence increase.

“It’s a big slap in the face — 600 per cent, it’s just too much,” he told the ABC.

“They’re going to kill culture and they’re making it so the only places that can operate at these times is the ‘trough’ venues … that demonstrate why you should be locking people out.

“It just makes it so the only places that can benefit is the large places, your casinos and your Hindley Street trough venues.”

The State Opposition has also backed rethinking the new fee increase, saying that it could adversely affect local wine and spirit producers as well.

“When these venues close, not only will it put people out of work but it will make it harder for SA producers,” shadow treasurer Stephen Mullighan said.

Treasurer Rob Lucas is sticking to his guns though.

“The Government doesn’t want to see lockout laws, the Government doesn’t want to reduce the vibrancy of Adelaide’s nightlife and we’re positive — and all the advice we’ve received — is that that won’t occur,” he said.

“We’re not going to see the equivalent of lockout laws that have occurred in Sydney.”