A tattoo studio credited with helping revitalise Wentworth Street in Port Kembla is facing imminent shut down after a court rejected the owner’s tattoo licence application on character grounds.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Peter Jones, owner of Steel City Tattoo, against NSW Fair Trading’s decision not to grant him a tattoo parlour operator’s licence.
In refusing the application, the tribunal found Jones was “not a fit and proper person” to hold such an authority given his past criminal record and his disregard for the licensing regime.
Speaking to the Mercury on Monday, Jones said he was devastated with the decision, revealing he’d sunk $35,000 worth of savings into setting up the business.
“They are saying I’m not a fit and proper person to own a tattoo shop,” he said.
“I’m good enough to raise two kids but they say I’m not good enough to draw a picture on someone. It’s ruined everything.
“We’re going to have to shut down.”
The tribunal heard Jones had been advised by industry colleagues that he was legally allowed to run his business while his application with Fair Trading was pending.
However, this information proved incorrect, and Jones found himself having to admit that he’d been running the studio without approval for six months.
He also admitted allowing an unlicensed artist to tattoo clients on two occasions and even working on a client himself after his application had been rejected.
When questioned by police about the studio’s licence status in August 2018, Jones said he was operating under the licence of a friend, who was present in the shop at the time. However, police claim there was no evidence that friend was an owner or employee of Steel City Tattoo, noting Jones had registered himself as a sole trader.
In relation to Jones’ criminal record, the tribunal heard he had convictions for property damage, hindering police, drink-driving and drug possession.
Jones admitted he’d made “stupid decisions” in the past, which he mainly attributed to excessive drinking, but said he had turned his life around and had been seeing a counsellor since April last year.
He also tendered references from other Port Kembla business owners who indicated they liked Jones, welcomed his studio and appreciated his support in helping revitalise Port Kembla.
However, the tribunal determined Jones lacked the “necessary fitness and propriety” to operate a tattoo parlour.