Publican hits out at industry

Grand Hotel publicans Dennis and Pam Corliss toast to a happier future after a recent court ruling against them.
Grand Hotel publicans Dennis and Pam Corliss toast to a happier future after a recent court ruling against them. GARY HUTCHISON

BETWEEN legal fees and a court ruling against him, Childers publican Dennis Corliss and his wife Pam are more than $230,000 poorer, but the pair has vowed to put it behind them to enjoy the industry they have learned to love.

In a civil court decision handed down in the Rockhampton Supreme Court, 39-year-old Terry Gibbings-Johns was awarded $192,152 after it was ruled Mr Corliss had pegged either a pub glass or ashtray at him in May 2005, which caused a permanent eye injury.

Mr Corliss appealed the decision, but on Tuesday the Queensland Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal and ruled in favour of Mr Gibbings-Johns.

Speaking from the public bar of the Grand Hotel yesterday, Mr Corliss said liquor licensing laws and regulations were unrealistic, and he called for drinkers to be accountable for their actions, not licensees and their staff.

He also called for regulators and enforcement officers to have had real experience in the industry.

“Until you've had to put up with what we put up with, you don't really know what's going on,” he said.

“The people in control (of the industry) have no real understanding. Let them walk in our shoes for a few shifts.”

Mr Corliss said pub and club owners and staff should not have to fear the threat of civil litigation when trying to protect themselves or other patrons from out-of-control thugs who were often affected by drugs or alcohol.

The couple agreed that 98% of patrons were well behaved and deserved to be able to have a good time, but current legislation restricted them too.

“Some drinkers only have to have one drink and they're a real problem,” Mrs Corliss said.

“But others can drink quite heavily, have a great time and go home without being a problem to anyone.

“Why should they have those restrictions slapped on them?”

Mrs Corliss was philosophical about the failed appeal and said it would not force them out of the pub or industry.

“We've learned we have to accept the umpire's decision and get on with life,” she said.

“We love the friendship and respect we enjoy from our good patrons and that's why we'll soldier on.”

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