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Thousands protest liquor laws. -

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Around 10,000 people have turned out in Melbourne to support the city's live music scene and
protest against liquor licensing laws which have forced some venues to shut, and it seems they may
have been successful.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A crowd of about 10,000 people has packed the centre of Melbourne to
support the city's vibrant live music scene and protest against liquor licensing laws which have
forced venues to close.

The legislation compelled venues to employ security guards for any live music events.

The Brumby Labor Government is trying to head off a backlash from inner city voters in an election
year and today announced it would relax the laws.

Critics say it's a backflip, but the Government says it's just listening to the people, as Hamish
Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: They came to save live music in Melbourne and it seems they've been

The Brumby Government says it's reached an accord with the music industry to relax strict security
provisions in the liquor licensing laws which require any venue playing live music to employ at
least two security guards.

JOHN BRUMBY, VICTORIAN PREMIER: The Government'll make recommendations to the director of liquor
licensing. We've signed an accord. She's an independent statutory authority, but I suspect that
she'll take some notice.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The protest movement gathered strength after Melbourne's iconic Tote Hotel was
forced to close last month due to the costs involved with the extra security under the new
licensing laws which came into effect in January.

The Tote's former licensee Bruce Milne says that the closure of his pub drew a line in the sand.

BRUCE MILNE, THE TOTE HOTEL: The people said, "We don't want this sort of thing to be happening,"
that was important. And I'm very sad that it had to be my venue, but it started something that - a
genuine public protest has resulted in a change to silly regulations and laws.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Today was a chance to show the strength of support for live music in Melbourne.
Thousands packed the city centre to the tune of AC/DC's Long Way to the Top, re-enacting one of
Australia's most enduring music moments.

Musicians like Dave Graney, who've been in talks with the State Government about the impact of the
laws, say politicians had no idea of the problems they were creating by initially ignoring the
music industry.

DAVE GRANEY, MUSICIAN: I'm glad they're thinking of moving backwards 'cause it's a silly situation.
They've stirred up such so much - you know such an apathetic group of people, they've got them out
on the streets - it's quite amazing.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: It's an election year in Victoria and the Brumby Labour Government was facing
the prospect of a voter backlash over the liquor laws in inner city seats the Greens covet.

GREG BARBER, GREENS MP: We could see many more Greens here in the Parliament not just in the inner
city but in regional areas as well, and bear in mind there are a lot of live music venues out there
in regional towns that suffer the same conditions as The Tote.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The State Government rejects the accusation the liquor licensing accord is a
backflip or it yielding to political pressure. Rather, it says it's a case of it listening to the
voice of the people.

JOHN BRUMBY: What we've looked at in relation to liquor licensing is whether it requires
fine-tuning, and to be frank, what we did was listen to the community. And you can never go wrong
listening, and that's exactly what we did.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Musicians who grew up playing in Melbourne's small venues like Warren Ellis are
relieved the laws have been relaxed and hope a unique culture will continue to thrive.

WARREN ELLIS, MUSICIAN, THE DIRTY THREE: It seems to be actually the one area where people are
continuing to support music in that way. Record sales drop off and the internet is changing
everything, and people are going out to see live music and it seems incredibly important that these
venues are still open and still available for bands to play and for people to go and see them.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In Melbourne it seems people power has ensured the show will go on.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline. Search Lateline