NSW Government responds to Liquor Act Review recommendations
New South Wales (NSW) Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing Troy Grant has released a response to the five-year statutory review into the Liquor Act and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act.
Minister Grant said 89 of the 91 recommendations made by the review — which address such matters as access to the liquor licensing system for local communities; promoting efficient, transparent, effective and fair decision making and strengthening regulatory tools to reduce alcohol-related harm — have been supported by the NSW Liberal and National Coalition Government, are in place or will be rolled out over the coming 12 months.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals are ensuring we have the best alcohol policy measures in the country as we strike the right balance between industry and individual responsibility,” Mr Grant said.
Mr Grant said the review, which was released in December 2013, pre-dated the NSW Government’s decisive actions in February 2014 to curb anti-social behaviour across the State and, in particular, in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross.
“It is early days but we are already seeing encouraging signs of a fundamental shift in the way people enjoy our city,” Mr Grant said.
Measures introduced by the NSW Government to date include:
- Three Strikes Disciplinary Scheme
- Creation of the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct and CBD-wide conditions including drink restrictions, 1.30am lockout, 3am last drinks and a two-year freeze on new licence applications
- Introduction of a risk-based licence fee scheme
- Licensing restrictions and ID scanners in Kings Cross high-risk venues
- Introduction of taxi marshalls at seven CBD ranks
- Restriction on all takeaway alcohol sales after 10 pm.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to reducing alcohol-related anti-social behaviour so the community can feel safe when out enjoying our State’s vibrant social life,” Mr Grant said. “There will always remain a strong need for personal responsibility and accountability in our society and that message is finally getting through,” he said.
New measures to be introduced
Mr Grant said that the following new measures would be introduced in NSW to ensure the system was “fair and built on the risks associated with alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour”:
- Escalating sanctions for licensed venues caught selling alcohol to a minor – which, in addition to existing fines and penalties, will now allow a licence to be suspended for up to 28 days for a first offence, increasing to the automatic cancellation of a licence for a third offence in a 12-month period;
- Introduction of a package of 12 late trades a year – allowing some venues to drop from 2am or 3am closing back to midnight yet still be open later for key community events;
- Creation of a new licence sub-category providing a lower annual licence fee for small wineries, distillers and craft brewers recognising their lower risk profile and contribution to regional tourism; and Developing a tiered training scheme to improve industry competencies and compliance by tailoring training for different industry sectors.
Mr Grant said increasing transparency and accountability on the way decisions are made was a core theme running through many of the recommendations that the NSW Government has adopted.
“The Government’s response will ensure we have effective tools to prevent alcohol-related harm, improve community and stakeholder participation in the liquor regulatory system, and promote transparent decision making,” Mr Grant said.
“The message to the community is clear: everyone has a role to play in ensuring we enjoy our vibrant communities in a safe and responsible manner,” Mr Grant concluded.