South Australia is the only state in Australia where the Liquor Licensing Commissioner regulates genres of music as well as what types of musical instruments are allowed in licensed premises through a duplicate licensing process.

In order for licensed premises in South Australia to be able to host live music, they must submit an Entertainment Consent Application which specifies what days and times the live music will be presented, as well as what types of music might be played.

Licence conditions are enforced by the South Australian Police.

To give an idea of how these conditions work, here’s just a couple of examples of South Australian liquor licenses.

  1. The OOSTENDE BELGIAN BEER CAFE. Condition 12. Approved instruments include and specify Harps and Didgeridoo
  2. The OVERWAY HOTEL. Condition 4. “There shall be no rock/heavy metal bands/disco music.”
  3. The 2006 HIGHER GROUND Entertainment Venue Licence (EVL). Condition 3 (ii). Approved genres specify “Andean, Ancient Greek, Christian Country, Indian Asian, Latin Freestyle, Gregorian Chant, Medieval, Opera, Polka, Blue Grass (two words…)”

The question here is about what are the regulations trying to genuinely achieve? Is it about ensuring that live music does not have an amenity impact on the surrounding area? or is it about the community deciding what musical genres and instruments are approved by the people of South Australia.

In NSW in 2009 the state government abolished the Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) development consent process which had a very similar function to the current South Australian Entertainment Consent provisions. NSW pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and small bars can now have live music and performance without any separate approval, as is the case in Victoria and other states.

Read the NSW Department of Planning practice note and fact sheets here

Along with changes to liquor licensing  in NSW at the same time, the removal of the separate entertainment consent has had a fantastic result in NSW, with new restaurants and small bars now presenting live music and hotels also returning to bands and live entertainment. The transition of cutting red tape has happened without causing disturbance to the quiet and good order of the neighbourhood because there are other processes to deal with noise from licensed premises.

South Australian Entertainment Consent provisions are actually a third level of regulation to address amenity impacts. As in most other states and territories, there are both noise complaints provisions under the liquor act as well as environmental protection processes that can also deal with sound emissions.

South Australia also has Order of Occupancy provisions in liquor licensing complaints process.


106—Complaint about noise etc emanating from licensed premises

(6)         In hearing and determining a complaint under this section, the Commissioner or the Court, as the case may be—

(a)         must give the complainant, the licensee and any other person whom the Commissioner or the Court thinks fit to hear an opportunity to be heard; and

(b)         must take into account—

(i)         the relevant history of the licensed premises in relation to other premises in the vicinity and, in particular, the period of time over which the activity, noise or behaviour complained about has been occurring and any significant change at any relevant time in the level or frequency at which it has occurred; and

(ii)         the unreasonableness or otherwise of the activity, noise or behaviour complained about; and

(iii)         the trading hours and character of the business carried out by the licensee on the licensed premises; and

(iv)         the desired future character of the locality in which the licensed premises are situated as stated in any relevant Development Plan under the Development Act 1993 ; and

(v)         whether or not any environment protection policy made under Part 5 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 , or guidelines published by the Environment Protection Authority established under that Act, applicable to the provision of live music on the licensed premises have been complied with; and

(vi)         any other matter that the Commissioner or the Court considers relevant.


The removal of this provision in South Australian cultural policy would have a profound effect on the development of live music and performance in this state. Not just for Adelaide and urban communities but also for the wine regions, coastal destinations as well as country pubs doing it tough in remote areas.

Identified in the Thinkers report on page 113 as a priority for the South Australian live music sector, there can perhaps be no single greater reform than this to create a better live music future for South Australia. What is certain is that the type of local government policy development being done across NSW and regional Victoria with Live Music Taskforces could not be considered were this type of legislation in force. With Adelaide Council passing a live music plan in recent weeks as well as the establishment of MUSITEC, now is the time to make this change, and set a level playing field where entertainment provided by real people can co-exist equally alongside currently exempt entertainment from large screens and gaming.