The operation of the noise restrictions from the QLD Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation was the fundamental issue for musicians and venues outside the Fortitude Valley Special Entertainment Precinct in Brisbane and in greater Queensland in forums and contact with the Live Music Office in 2014.
Musicians and venues identified a number of problematic aspects of the operation of these provisions including the very low baseline of 75dba for assessment of decibel limits and mandatory acoustic reports as well as integrity/consistency challenges with the application and enforcement of licence conditions on venues.
These findings echo the issues tabled in two 2013 reviews of the operation of these provisions in the Liquor Act 1992.
In February 2013 the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General released the Red Tape Reduction And Other Reform Proposals For Regulation Of Liquor And Gaming Discussion Paper, with the associated section 2.5 Noise controls over liquor licensed premises.
Section 2.5.4 Options and Impacts notes that:
It is proposed that noise restrictions under the Liquor Act 1992 and the enforcement of noise restrictions be reviewed. Because a review is proposed, no options are put forth.
The Government is seeking views on:
- How is noise from licensed premises best regulated, particularly in regard to the current definition and methodology relating to the concept of “unreasonable noise”?
- Who is the appropriate body to deal with noise complaints in regard to licensed premises – police, local council, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, or another body?
- Are the currently prescribed decibel limits still appropriate?
- Should decibel limits and mandatory acoustic reports be abolished?
- How might the interests of residents and licensed venues be best balanced in regard to noise?
Closing date for submissions was 15 March 2013, the 300 submissions can be read here.
Further integrity issues with the operation of the noise provisions in the Liquor Act were tabled with the December 2013 report by the Queensland Ombudsman, An investigation into the regulation of licensed premises by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, with a series of adverse findings and an associated recommendation.
The Director-General seek legal advice and review the OLGR’s blanket practice of non-enforcement of noise licence conditions in the absence of a complaint.
Any red tape review of these provisions would have evaluated how similar functions in other states are addressed across licensing, planning and environmental protection regulation. In this context the 75dba decibel limits and mandatory acoustic reports for entertainment would be considered an unnecessary burden on the hospitality and entertainment industry and in particular on the artists themselves, and should be abolished.
At this time findings from the review are being prepared for the consideration of Government through the Department of Justice and Attorney General. To ensure that the importance of red tape reform of these regulations is recognised by the State Government, consideration should be given to undertaking a coordinated campaign by the live music and hospitality sector to raise this issue in the public domain.
A number of important steps could also be taken by the Queensland Government to move towards a more workable framework for the live music sector within the existing Liquor Act 1992 until the reform of these provisions is completed.
- A go-to person is appointed within the OLGR for the live music sector as a point of contact for compliance and operational issues.
- A go-to person at Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General undertaking the red tape review is appointed for the live music sector as a point of contact for the review of the noise provisions in the Liquor Act 1992.
- A communication is prepared for the live music and performance sector to inform them of the issues with the current operation of the noise provisions and the state of play of the associated review.