Johnboy thoughtfully forwarded me this story about Tasmania having problems with back yard pubs. Not that there have been any problems as such, other than a few licensed pubs losing clientele, but the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is ever vigilant and disaster, according to them, is just around the corner. They might be right.Tasmania has banned smoking in pubs for about a year and, not surprisingly, a proportion of smoking punters have elected to drink elsewhere. According to anecdotal reports allegedly received by the AHA from publicans across the State, back yard pubs, of which there are supposedly two or three in every town, are becoming ‘semi-organised’, installing pool tables, plasma screens and other pub-like facilities and out-competing hotels with their lower overheads, not to mention allowing punters to smoke inside.
I have no doubt that this trend will be repeated in other Australian jurisdictions as their anti-smoking legislations bite. Canberra’s laws, cleverly introduced in summer, have yet to really present a serious problem for smokers but, as winter looms, the prospect of expulsion to the bitter sidewalk every time you want a fag will no doubt inspire various extra-legal solutions.
The problem for the authorities will be in determining what is a back yard ‘pseudo’ pub and what is an old-fashioned barbeque, birthday party, poker night or meeting of the local ornithologist and beer drinkers guild. Are we to expect a small army of official party-gate-crashers scouring the suburbs, entering parties and attempting to procure alcohol?
If someone goes to the bottlo, buys a couple of cases of beer, goes to a party and shares the beer with friends, who then feel obliged to make a financial contribution to the purchasee, the total of which exceeds the sum he paid, has he become a pseudo publican?
Is the presence of a plasma screen, pool table and other ‘pub-like’ entertainment in the rumpus room at a private party about to be banned? What is the increase in risk of people being ‘killed and seriously hurt’ in a back yard pub over an hotel anyway?
These questions, and more serious ones, remain to be answered. In the meantime, I would recommend that anyone thinking of heading into the back yard pub business give the idea away unless they have almost zero assets. It would take just one drunken idiot to drown in his own vomit for you to lose everything you own.
On that note, I would like to inform everyone who is considering visiting the Backyard Backanalia in future that I myself have absolutely no assets.