Mr O'BRIEN (Malvern) -- I raise a matter for the Premier. The action I seek is that the Premier direct that a couple who have been poorly treated by his government be reimbursed for licensing fees they should never have been charged. The bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, were the greatest natural disaster in Australia's history. Tragically 173 Victorians lost their lives, while thousands more lost their homes and businesses. The township of Marysville was one of the towns that were devastated.
One of the businesses destroyed on that day was the Marysville Patisserie, which was owned and operated by Ashraf and Christine Doos. The patisserie was not only a business that Ashraf and Christine built up over seven years, it was their home and that of their two teenage sons. The strength of courage the Doos family showed in light of the tragedy of Black Saturday was remarkable, but it was also typical of many Victorian survivors of that terrible event.
The Premier met with Ashraf, and on 24 February 2009 relayed to the Parliament a personal commitment:
If passion and determination of people are anything to go by, and if people like Marysville Patisserie owner, Ashraf Doos, is an example of that, we will succeed. Ashraf lost his business, his home and many of his friends in the Marysville fires. I met him at Healesville literally minutes after he had learnt that his property had been destroyed, and despite his extraordinary pain he told me in no uncertain terms how he and his wife planned to rebuild his patisserie and help rebuild his beloved community. I told him that we would support him, and we will.
To their great credit Christine and Ashraf worked to get back on their feet. When you run your own business, any day the doors are closed is a day without income, and I am delighted that they opened a wonderful business called Marysville Patisserie on Glenferrie in the heart of my electorate of Malvern.
Here is where the Premier's assurance of support has rung hollow.
Having already paid the 2009 liquor licence fee for their now destroyed business, the Dooses needed the same type of licence for their new Malvern venture. Mr Doos went in person to Liquor Licensing Victoria and set out his circumstances. He explained that his business had burnt down in Black Saturday's fires and that he was attempting to restart a business in Malvern. What response did he receive? He was told that he could not transfer the licence from his devastated business to his new one. He was told that he had to pay to simply apply for a new licence, and then he had to pay again to receive a new licence. Finally, Mr Doos was told that the government would not credit or refund him the licence fee he had already paid on his business that was lying in ashes and instead the government would pocket that money itself. That is not bureaucracy, that is bastardry.
The Dooses want to rebuild in Marysville, but so far they have been let down by a government that treats the loss of their business as an opportunity to collect another liquor licence fee. The Premier told this Parliament he would support Mr Doos. I ask the Premier to now keep that commitment, to direct that there be an immediate refund of all additional liquor licensing fees paid by the Doos family for 2009 and to extend the family an apology for the distress their treatment by the government has caused.