Statutes Amendment (Liquor Licensing) Bill

Second Reading

Today, the government introduces the Statutes Amendment (Liquor Licensing) Bill 2019 to make two amendments to legislation to support the ongoing implementation of the review into the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 conducted in 2016 by the Hon. Mr Tim Anderson QC. As members would be aware, in 2017 the former government commenced the Liquor Review Act, giving effect to recommendations of the Anderson review.

Notably, the act, as now passed, makes provision for new licence classes for liquor licensing in an attempt to streamline the current licensing process. These licences will be transitioned in November 2019. The act, as currently stands, makes provision for transitional changes in respect of conditions attached to current licenses.

In undertaking a tidying up review of the current licence classes before the new licences commence, the commissioner for liquor and gambling noted that there are currently irrelevant or obsolete conditions placed upon licences, which realistically are of a planning or environmental consideration rather than a liquor regulation consideration. Such conditions include:

  • no garbage or refuse (including empty bottles and cans) is to be moved from inside the premises to outside storage bins between the hours of 11pm and 7am of the following morning;
  • this type of condition is usually either copied from a development approval or imposed through conciliations. It is to be removed, as it does not relate to the sale and supply of liquor and is a council matter;
  • the licensee shall ensure all rubbish, including broken glass, broken beer bottles/stubbies/cans are removed from the nearby streets adjacent/across the road from the licensed premises;
  • this type of condition is almost always imposed as a result of conciliation with adjacent residents. However, it is to be removed, as it does not relate to the sale and supply of liquor and it concerns areas outside of the licensed area (i.e. adjacent streets) and therefore cannot actually be enforced by the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner;
  • exit lights, operating from an independent power source, are required above all exits, including the exit at the northern end of foyer two adjacent to the restaurant. The above-mentioned exits are all to be opened without the use of a key while the premises are open to the public;
  • this condition is to be removed, as it does not relate to the sale and supply of liquor. Matters such as exit lights are an issue dealt with by local councils at the planning stages;
  • the entry/exit points to smoking areas or outdoor licensed areas remain closed, except when in immediate use by patrons entering or leaving the areas;
  • this condition is to be removed on the basis that it is a condition for the purpose of reducing noise to adjacent residents. In line with Mr Anderson's comments, those noise issues should be dealt with by councils. These conditions are being removed; and finally
  • conditions regarding outlaw bikie gangs: many different versions of this condition exist in pieces of legislation. It is proposed that the conditions be amended so that they are consistent across all licences. This will provide clarity to licensees and to enforcement agencies.

The removal of these conditions through the bill accords with Mr Anderson's recommendations; however, they failed to be included in the current act when passed in 2017. The government understands that this had been the original intention, as Mr Anderson had specifically recommended that the commissioner be provided with the absolute discretion to add, substitute, vary or revoke any existing conditions needed as a result of these reforms. The proposed amendments will ensure that the commissioner is provided with that discretion.

In terms of how this operates legislatively, the bill amends schedule 2 of part 5 of the Liquor Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Act 2017. This contains a transitional provision that permits the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner to substitute, vary or revoke a condition of a licence during the transitional period. However, this provision, as drafted, applies only where the condition was imposed under existing part 3, division 2 of the Liquor Licensing Act 1997, whereas a significant number of conditions were imposed outside part 3, division 2, including under section 43 of the Liquor Licensing Act 1997.

The amendment will therefore enable the commissioner to exercise the powers to substitute, vary or revoke any condition to which a liquor licence is subject, not only those imposed under part 3, division 2. Practically, the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner will include a condition on all licences stating that the licensee is required to comply with any development and planning approvals, and any relevant orders of the licensing authority. This will ensure that licensees remain aware of their obligations under planning and local council requirements.

Consequentially, the bill also amends the Statutes Amendment (Attorney-General's Portfolio) Act 2018 to commence section 7 of that act immediately, as had been the original intention. Section 7 of the portfolio act amends the proof of age provisions of section 115 of the Liquor Licensing Act 1997. Members may be aware that the portfolio act was assented to on 27 November 2018. Section 7 restores the position that previously existed whereby proof of age could be requested by the occupier or manager of licensed premises, or an agent or employee of the occupier.

Section 7 has been intended to commence immediately on royal assent being given to the portfolio act. However, the commencement of section 7 was inadvertently linked to the commencement of section 22 of the liquor review act, which the government does not propose to commence until November 2019.

This government has prioritised reducing red tape and streamlining government departments. These amendments will no doubt assist in the smooth transition from the former licensing scheme to the new classes in November 2019. Stakeholders in relation to all these matters have been consulted, and I am not aware of any dissent to this proposal. I commend the bill to members and seek leave to have the explanation of clauses inserted in Hansard without my reading it.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title

2—Amendment provisions

These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Liquor Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Act 2017

3—Amendment of Schedule 2—Transitional provisions

This clause makes technical amendments to clause 5 of the transitional provisions set out in Schedule 2 of the Liquor Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Act 2017. The technical amendments clarify that the provisions of clause 5 apply to all conditions of existing licences whether imposed under a provision of old Part 3 Division 2 of the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 or any other provision of that Act.

Part 3—Amendment of Statutes Amendment (Attorney-General's Portfolio) Act 2018

4—Amendment of section 2—Commencement

This clause makes a technical amendment to the commencement provision of the Statutes Amendment (Attorney-General's Portfolio) Act 2018 so that section 7 of that Act is brought into operation on the commencement of this measure.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Brown.