Saturday, April 22, 2006

The battle of Tannum Sands bottle shop

Passed by Goodnight Scrub near Gin Gin heading south to Hervey Bay. The largest natural hoop pine forest in Australia. The scrub is so dense it is impenetrable in places. Hence its name given by local cattlemen who wished many a stray beast goodnight when it crashed into the tangled undergrowth. Stayed my own goodnight last night at Tannum Sands. Tannum is situated just south of Gladstone on the River Boyne, no famous battles at this version of the Boyne. King Billy never made it so far south. Tannum Sands is a beach suburb of Gladstone, deadly quiet, with a pub, a pretty beach and not much else.

I knew little or nothing about this place so logged onto the Internet to do some research. In passing, I discover that a certain Mr D.B. Walker (no relation to me or Johnny Walker) appealed on 13 June 1994 against the Tannum Sands pub’s right to have a detached bottleshop (neither Johnny Walker nor I would have appealed against THAT). With time on my hands, I idly download the tribunal's ruling.

It starts with high minded waffle. “The function of the tribunal is an administrative one. It is to review the administrative decision that is under attack before it”. It tediously describes its terms of reference some more before describing the pros and cons of the case.

The appellant took a big spray approach. He claimed that the quaint seaside town had suffered vandalism related to liquor consumption. There was beer bottle debris which were a possible danger to toddlers (alcoholic toddlers?). There were home robberies possibly due to drunkenness. There was even a $2,000 reward from the Mayor, though it is not entirely clear what it was for, either to catch a crim or just to shut the appelant up. The appelant droaned on with his putative public house of horrors: There was a risk of being mugged at the bottle shop after dark. There was the threat to the sanctity of Sundays. Only the newsagent opens on a Sunday and even he only from 9 to 11am. He believes the even local heathen Chinee and restaurant shuts at 7pm on the Christian Sabbath. He believes the operation simply won't be viable. In short, all sort of biblical catastrophes will be visited on Tannum if this bottle shop gets the go-ahead.

Finally the defendent responds to the charges. Firstly, he said, if it is not economically viable, then that is only a matter for the licensee to consider – in other words its profitability was not relevant to the decision. He then waded in with community benefit. Women and senior citizens would have safety and security puchasing their tipples in a shopping centre - not in the intimidating atmosphere of a young male dominated pub, no doubt. It is separate from other businesses. No nasty contamination from a bottle shop. He dealt with the vandalism issue. He mentioned that there were 200 detached bottle shops (presumably in Qld) and there has not been one single complaint in respect to a disturbance to an amenity following commencement of trading. There is no evidence of increased vandalism. Pub staff are not aware of incidents of beerbottles left on the beach after so called “drunken weekend night parties”.

The tribunal ordered that the appeal (though not frivolous or vexatious) had little evidence to support his submissions and was therefore dismissed. The respondent applicants application for costs to be paid by the appellant was refused. The trading hours are 8:30am to midnight, Monday to Sunday. Hooray! Tannum Sands is saved from the wowsers. Thanks to A. Lidon (deputy chairperson).

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