Australia: The 17 Point Plan Legacy

Last Updated: 2 November 2009

Article by Tom Young and Louise Bell

Back in March 2005, the Queensland Government announced a 17-point Brisbane City Safety Action Plan (17 Point Plan) to increase safety and improve public order in and around licensed premises. Over recent years, the implementation of the 17 Point Plan has changed the way licensed premises operate, however, the impact of the changes has been the subject of some recent controversy.

In July this year, Premier Anna Bligh said the government would "work with the liquor industry and the Queensland Police Service to identify high risk venues and aim to replace glass with plastic or similar cups by the end of the year".

It was recently reported in the media that Lou Bickle, owner Cloudland, Press Club, Empire, Family Nightclub, Bunk and Rics Cafe, will spend about $150,000 on a new, linked ID scanner system, to ensure "dangerous revelers" will be refused entry at all of his venues, and was encouraging other club owners to do the same.1 According to the Courier Mail, "Mr Bickle said this would be much more effective than the State Government's glass ban to be introduced on 2 December 2009, which provided ''no incentive'' for other licensees to do the right thing".2

Progress on the Brisbane City Safety Action Plan

Given this recent controversy, it is time to reflect on the changes brought about the 17 Point Plan. Outlined below is a snapshot of the implementation of various components of the 17 Point Plan.

Stricter conditions on Licensed Premises

The Liquor Act 1992 (Qld) (Liquor Act) now imposes:

  • a 3am lockout condition on all licensed premises in Queensland, and
  • stricter statutory licence conditions on all licensees with permission to trade after 1am in the Brisbane City Council area, including:
    • a requirement that licensees employ sufficient numbers of crowd controllers;
    • a requirement that all staff complete Responsible Service of Alcohol training;
    • a requirement for licensees to install CCTV at public entrance and exit points of their venues; and
    • a ban on competitions or games that involve on-premises consumption or the giving of alcohol as prizes for on-premises consumption.

The Liquor Act also now prohibits advertising of:

  • free alcohol
  • multiple quantities of alcohol (eg 2 drinks for the price of 1)
  • the sale price of alcohol for consumption on the advertised premises, and
  • a promotion likely to indicate the availability of alcohol at a price less than that normally charged for the alcohol (eg. 'happy hours', 'all you can drink', 'toss the boss').

Review of Legislation

The 17 Point Plan included a proposal to review of the Liquor Act and the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) (Bail Act).

Following an extensive review of the Liquor Act, the Liquor and Other Acts Amendment Bill, was passed in September 2008 and came into effect on 1 January 2009. The Liquor and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008 (Qld) (Amendment Act) introduced a new licensing regime in Queensland and the most significant changes to Queensland's licensing laws since the advent of the Liquor Act on 1 July 1992. The Amendment Act aimed to implement recommendations arising from the review, including the enhancement of the role of harm minimisation, increasing administrative efficiency, and clarifying existing provisions. The most significant changes to the Liquor Act were the restructure of existing licence types, the introduction of news liquor licensing fees and the winding back of ordinary trading hours.

Code of Practice for the Responsible Service, Supply and promotion of liquor

The Code of Practice for the Responsible Service, Supply and Promotion of Liquor (Code), which was established in 2005, provides a universal guideline for use by the OLGR, licensees, nominees and staff that are involved in the sale and supply of alcohol.

The Code, which operates in connection with the Liquor Act, provides that drinking competitions and activities which encourage rapid or excessive consumption of alcohol are unacceptable.

Other Measures

Other components of the 17 Point Plan which have been implemented by the Queensland Government include:

  • an all-night transport service called "Nightlink, and
  • the continuation and expansion of the Queensland's Government's Security Improvement Program

Furthermore, there were over 60 Queensland Liquor Accords in place between licensees for the central business district as at June 2008.

Where is all this going?

New Zealand's Minister of Justice, Simon Power, recently said to Hospitality Association of New Zealand:
"... over time, piecemeal and inconsistent legislative change has eroded the principles that underpinned [the Sale of Liquor Act]. At current count, the Sale of Liquor Act has been amended 13 times since its enactment. It's become increasingly clear to me that New Zealand urgently needs to take a wholesale look at the Sale of Liquor Act. I will take some convincing that the Act should not be rewritten."

In Queensland, the Liquor Act has been amended about 40 times since its enactment including the 2008 amendments, effective 1 January 2009, which introduced significant changes to the licensing regime in Queensland. Given the recent controversy and various reform measures rolled-out in Queensland over the past 17 years, it may be that a complete overhaul of the Liquor Act is also needed in Queensland.

Footnotes

1 A Sandy, "Life bans loom for unruly club-goers in Fortitude Valley", Courier Mail, 25 September 2009, available at: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,27574,26125615-3102,00.html
2 Ibid.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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