MPs Nightclub closes as owner alleges unfair treatment over licence


MP's nightclub gold coast closed-minded
Photo: MP's Nightclub

Gold Coast gay venue MP’s Nightclub has shut down after its venue license was cancelled by authorities, in what its owner has alleged was a “closed-minded” decision.

The nightclub, on Orchid Avenue in Surfers Paradise, has now been sold by manager Claire Kingston, but authorities have denied any anti-gay bias in the decision, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

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On January 11, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) cancelled MP’s nightclub licence, which was held by ASIX Entertainment Pty Ltd, of which Kingston is a part owner.

Kingston told the Bulletin the decision came as a surprise and she was notified only a day beforehand.

“They told me it was due to a conviction of my business partner. I was completely unaware. It took me totally by surprise,” she said.

“Nobody told me beforehand. The licence was just cancelled.

“I was born transgender and the OLGR has never given me the time of day, they have never acknowledged me. I believe they are closed-minded and don’t want a venue like ours here.

“I can’t operate so it has been financially devastating.”

Kingston’s business partner, Steven Ritchardson, previously operated Gold Coast gay venue Escape on Cavill Avenue and was fined $83,000 for playing unlicensed pop music at Escape in 2017.

In June last year, he pleaded guilty to possessing dangerous drugs, possession of property suspected to be used in connection to a drug offence, and being in control of a motor vehicle while drugs were present in the system, the Bulletin reported.

Kingston said she was not told of Ritchardson’s legal issues and hadn’t heard from him since the licence cancellation.

She has since disputed the cancellation in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) but the tribunal refused Kingston’s application for a stay in order to have the licence transferred to her name.

“They could have overturned the decision and moved it to me. There is not reason why I couldn’t have been the licensee,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation told the Gold Coast Bulletin it wouldn’t confirm the reasons behind the licence cancellation on the basis on confidentiality, but refuted any insinuation of an anti-gay agenda.

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“Any decisions made by the commissioner under the Liquor Act are made in strict accordance with the relevant legislative provisions,” the spokesperson said.

“Any decision made by the commissioner to cancel a liquor licence follows a show cause process where the licensee and any parties with a registered interest are afforded the opportunity to make submissions.

“Submissions are considered by the commissioner in making a decision.”

Kingston said she was devastated by the decision and has now sold the club at a loss, after investing a significant amount in sound and lighting equipment.

“We put all our passion, heart, soul and money into that club and we loved it,” she said.

“It’s such a shame for the Gold Coast LGBTIQ community, because where they will they be able to go out now?

“The venue was going from strength to strength. I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”

 

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