Backyard gig stirs up hotel angst

Jakeb Waddell and Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
The Gray Brothers band, comprising siblings Elwood, Albert and Harry Gray.
Camera IconThe Gray Brothers band, comprising siblings Elwood, Albert and Harry Gray. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

The peak body representing WA’s hotel and hospitality industry has weighed in on a row over a band fined for an unauthorised backyard concert in Broome.

The Gray Brothers originally copped a $2175 penalty from rangers last month after about 200 people turned up to the ticket-only gig in Cable Beach.

That was cut down to $675 when Shire president Harold Tracey intervened.

The three brothers said the process of obtaining permission from the council was too complicated and it was cheaper and quicker to cop a fine.

In a letter to Mr Tracey, Australian Hotels Association membership and licensing manager Mike Andrew said the group and its Broome members held “grave concerns” that unregulated events on private property may be encouraged by the “precedent set”.

Mr Andrews said such events could pose a serious risk to the safety of attendees, the amenity of the area, and adversely affect ratepaying businesses in the Shire.

He said concerns were compounded by a comment from band member Harry Gray that he and his brothers were working closely with Mr Tracey to work out a solution to help similar events continue legally.

Mr Andrews said it was important Broome venues were considered and consulted in the development and implementation of any Shire policy because the hospitality industry had always played an integral part in promoting and fostering local artists.

“There are any number of family-friendly venues in Broome with the capacity to hold such events and we have been advised by our members that they regularly preference local acts, with various options for performers to collect the proceeds from the door or ticket sales,” he said.

“It should be noted, however, that unlike this event, there is never an option for event organisers to run and collect proceeds from an unregulated food business.

“This is because the legislative and regulatory compliance requirements, along with the associated costs, have already been borne by the business providing safe food to attendees.” Mr Andrews said the State Government had also made significant changes to the Liquor Control Act, which allows certain venues to run temporary events in public or private areas adjacent to their licensed premises.

“Industry optimism is based on the assumption that the Shire of Broome will follow the State Government lead,” he said.

“It is our hope that the Shire will develop a policy that promotes local artists, encourages regional events, stimulates tourism, and supports the ratepaying businesses in their efforts to do the same.”

Mr Tracey said Shire councillors and staff were “assessing all of our events policies and application processes”.

“My discussion with (The Gray Brothers) was that we, as an administration, would be working towards the simplification of event application processes, but all statutory and local requirements will still have to be met.”

Band member Harry Gray said backyard concerts were low-risk family events that did not affect or compete with venues in any way.

“House concerts offer a completely different atmosphere and have nothing to do with liquor licensing,” he said.

“There are no alcohol sales at house concerts.

“They provide a safe environment for children and underage musicians — something no venue in Broome can do at a reasonable cost to artists.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails