Majority of Queensland restaurants could have liquor licenses suspended
The vast majority of licensed food service businesses are at risk of having their liquor license suspended in a week, according to Restaurant & Catering Queensland (RCQ). By the close of business on Thursday 19 February only 12% of current liquor licensees in the food service sector had submitted their license fee to the Queensland Government Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR).
Failure to renew the liquor license by 2 March would result in automatic suspension, with businesses found selling alcohol while suspended facing penalties of up to $50,000.00. A failure to renew licenses within 28 days of suspension would result in cancellation of the liquor license.
A cancelled license would mean having to commence a completely new liquor license application from scratch if the business wanted to sell alcohol and until the entire application process had been completed, no liquor sales or service could be offered at that venue.
The OLGR has advised RCQ that there is no ability under the legislation to allow extensions on the 2 March deadline.
Speaking from Townsville on Friday, RCQ President Peter Summers urged members to make it an absolute priority to directly check with OLGR to ensure their license fee payments had been received and that members obtain a receipt to prove this. “Despite the fact that the Association has provided updates and e-broadcasts on the license fee issue over some time, it is evident that many member businesses have not yet been processed as having paid their license renewal and therefore are at significant risk of having their license(s) suspended in just 10 days,” he said.
Restaurant & Catering Queensland is keen to ensure that licensed food service businesses, most particularly members, are not financially disadvantaged through non-compliance and is looking at communication strategies to ensure the potential impact to the industry is minimised, including working collaboratively with OLGR.
As at 1 January 2009 liquor licensing fees apply to all types of liquor licenses everywhere in the state of Queensland without exception. There has been a lot of confusion expressed from the licensed food service sector with many operators stating that they thought their businesses were exempt because there was no mention of the terms ‘restaurant’ or ‘on premise (meals) license’ on the OLGR self assessment form – or any indication to reiterate that their license category type is now classed as ‘Commercial – Other’. This classification carries the lowest base fee of $500 per annum (with $250 due by March 2).
Businesses seeking more information are invited to visit www.olgr.qld.gov.au/industry/liquorLicensing/annualLicencefees/index.shtml.
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