LIQUOR LICENSING (LIQUOR PRODUCTION AND SALES LICENCE) AMENDMENT BILL

Second Reading

I thank all members for their contribution to the second reading of this bill. Whilst it has been rather expansive in the breadth of matters raised in the contributions, it adds the colourful flavour of the industry we are trying to assist here.

 

If I could just say that, although the bill itself is relatively narrow, in that it is dealing with a potential problem that we had brought to our attention as a government by the commissioner as to this particular licence and its tension with a very clear position of the government and the previous government, liquor in supermarkets was not something that was intended. Whilst in the reforms under the previous government, which did rationalise some of the licences (and this one in particular), the liquor production and sales licence is actually an amalgam of the old producer's licence and the wholesale liquor merchant licence categories.

So we are dealing with a cohort that has a special licence, which is intended to make provision for winegrowers/producers who had the wholesale outlets and really the development of what has become a major cellar-door industry and an opportunity to enhance regions in South Australia that are already rich in tourism. So it is a certain category this is designed for. In short, what has occurred is that, although there was no intention for supermarkets to have liquor available in their product, some supermarket owners do grow grapes and produce wine, and there was potential for it to be argued that persons operating those outlets would take advantage; indeed, applications have been made.

This is a very discrete area of remedy to, in this bill, make provision for the liquor production and sales licence to very clearly identify that it is not to apply to outlets where the premises are advertised and ordinarily known as a supermarket, convenience store or delicatessen. I have to say that I am never overjoyed by seeing the words 'convenience store'—it is very American. It is like a corner store, but in any event I do not want to in any way detract from the importance of this piece of legislation. However, on the advice of parliamentary counsel, it is important here to identify that we are clearly separating out this category and making it clear that this is not, and was never intended to be, addressing supermarkets.

Although this definition is there, other members have raised with me the question that we have other types of licences, one of which is available for small stores, that is, local stores. They are very often in the country and very often the only outlet for food, coffees, and things of that nature in a very small township or settlement. Some are even smaller than towns, and there is no local hotel, there is no local liquor store and there is no local outlet, and persons who live in that settlement or town and surrounds would have to go for quite extensive drives to neighbouring regional towns to be able to access liquor.

These small stores, and there are probably 30-odd around the state, as I say, very often in regional communities, have a special, different category of licence from what we are talking about here today to enable them to sell a small provision of alcohol. It simply means that the local people in those towns or communities are able to go down to their local store, get a takeaway chicken, buy a sixpack of beer and be able to go home and enjoy a refreshment that most other people in South Australia have the benefit of. So we do have a special category for those. I just want to make it clear that there is no application of this bill to affect that licence, which is independent of the production and sales licence that is what is being dealt with today.

Thank you very much for that. I acknowledge Mr Soulio and his team in the commission for the support that they have given us in understanding this issue that has been identified and working through it with us as to how this be dealt with. Legislation seemed to be the only way to make it abundantly clear that that is the current position of the government. I just want to acknowledge also the work of some of the stakeholders, including the South Australian Wine Industry Association, which is a significant stakeholder in this area.

I also want to say in concluding on this bill that, although this potential weakness, loophole—whichever way you want to put it—has been identified in this legislation, we have a very significant industry and contribution of those in the food retail outlet business. Supermarkets are a major player in that space and provide an extraordinary level of service in what they provide to us.

They have, through their stakeholders and individually, presented to the government, and I am sure to the opposition, very significant submissions and some quite powerful arguments for the relaxation, I suppose, of the opportunity to sell alcohol from their outlets, namely, the supermarkets.

It is not the view of the government at this point and it was not at the time of this legislation, and—I say this with confidence—it was not the view of the previous government at the time we dealt with this legislation, and it was not even the view of Mr Tim Anderson QC, who is the retired judge who had done a comprehensive body of work for the previous government in liquor licensing reform, that supermarkets come into this space.

I do not know what will happen in the future. It may be that these things change over time, but that is the position of the government at present, and this will just make it crystal clear in this legislation. Again, I thank members for their contribution and am happy to answer any questions in committee.

Bill read a second time.