A BALLARAT publican has slammed a proposed new set of liquor licensing fees, saying they will hurt country pubs. The State Government recently announced that a risk-based fee structure was backed by independent research and would cover the cost of regulating and policing the industry. Under the new structure, licensed premises will be considered higher risk depending on how late they traded and be charged extra loadings depending on patron numbers.But Australian Hotels Association Country vice president Ian Larkin said the changes would see small pubs operating past 11pm hit hard, even if they were only open late one-day-a-week."Little pubs end up having to be classed as high-risk," he said. "The way the government has structured this license fee is just a disgrace."We support a safe environment, but we are not a taxation department to be paying for police."Mr Larkin said some country hotel fees were expected to rise by 300 per cent."If we don't fight this a lot of hotels are going to go out of business."Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson said research identified the key risk factor for predicting trouble in licensed premises was late trading, and that risk was compounded as patron numbers were increased. The research showed risk factors were the same for country and city venues."This research shows that alcohol-related crime and violence in licensed venues affected all of Victoria, not just Melbourne and large regional cities."Restaurants, small laneway bars, early closing pubs and wineries that pose less risk to the community and cost less to regulate will pay less or face a moderate fee increase," he said.Mr Robinson said there was existing flexibility in the liquor licencing system for venues to increase their patron capacity and trading hours on specific days. "Venues who want to trade for longer and have more patrons for a special event have always been able to apply for a temporary license," he said.