Australia: More liquor and gaming changes proposed for Queensland

Last Updated: 9 February 2016
Article by Robert Lyons

The Attorney-General introduced the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) into the Queensland Parliament on 12 November 2015. The Bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, which is to provide a report on the Bill by 8 February 2016.

The objectives of the Bill are to:

  1. tackle alcohol-fuelled violence, particularly late at night; and
  2. provide greater clarity and improve operation efficiency in the regulation of licensed premises.

The Bill proposes to implement a number of reforms which have recently been discussed in the media. We outline some of these as follows:

  1. Creation of '3am Safe Night Precincts' – Under current legislation, certain areas within the State may be declared as 'Safe Night Precincts.' The Bill proposes that such areas may, by regulation, be further designated as '3am Safe Night Precincts.' A precinct may only be declared as a 3am Safe Night Precinct if to do so would not have an undue adverse effect on the health or safety of members of the public, or the amenity of the community.

The consequences of a precinct being prescribed as a 3am Safe Night Precinct are that licensed premises within the precinct will have the right to apply for extended trading hours, under the new extended trading hours regime described below.

  1. Reduction in extended trading hours – The Liquor Act presently allows for most types of licensees to apply for extended trading hours on an ongoing basis between midnight and 5am. Significantly, the Bill proposes to reduce the available hours of extended trading so that:
    1. For licences in a 3am Safe night Precinct, extended trading hours will end at 3am.
    2. For Premises not in a 3am Safe night Precinct, extended trading hours will end at 2 am.

That is, no licensees will be able to trade between 3am and 5am anymore on an ongoing basis. From the proposed commencement date of these changes, premises which already have approval to trade between 3 am and 5am will automatically have their approval reduced so that trading must cease at 3am (in the case of a 3am Safe night Precinct) or 2am (in the case of premises not in a 3am Safe Night Precinct).

These new trading hour proposals relate to extended trade on a regular basis only. The right for licensees to apply for an extended trading hours permit to trade up to 5am, up to a maximum of 12 times a year, will be retained.

  1. Reduction in extended trading hours (takeaway sales) – In relation to premises selling takeaway liquor (ie detached botteshops) the current legislation allows application for extended trading only between 10pm and midnight. The Bill proposes to abolish this ability, so that no new applications must be made to trade beyond 10pm. However, transitional provisions will allow premises with existing approval to trade between 10pm and midnight, to retain that ability.
  2. Abolition of State-wide 3am lockout and introduction of new lockout – As a result of the proposal for extended trading not to extend beyond 3am, the current State-wide lockout preventing patrons from entering licensed premises after 3am is no longer needed and will be abolished.

However, a new 1am lockout will be imposed on licensees in 3am Safe Night Precincts that have approval for extended trading anytime between 1am and 3am. That is, such licensees must not allow patrons to enter the premises after 1am (even if they have approval to trade beyond 1am). In other words, although premises within a 3am Safe Night Precinct will have the privilege of applying for approval to trade until 3am, the downside is that, if approved, such premises must refuse entry from 1am.

  1. Banning of Rapid Intoxication Drinks – The Bill proposes an ability for the government to declare a type of drink to be a 'rapid intoxication drink' if it is of a type that facilitates or encourages rapid intoxication either because it is designed to be consumed rapidly, or contains a high percentage of alcohol. The sale or supply of any drinks so declared will be prohibited at all times during approved extended trading hours after midnight.
  2. Promotion of Craft Beer Industry – The Bill proposes the introduction of a 'craft beer producer permit', allowing the holder to supply craft beer at a promotional event. Such permits may only be obtained by operators of craft breweries who produce no more than 5million litres per year. Further, sales at promotional events can only be made on a takeaway basis – any purchases cannot be consumed at the function. However, samples can be provided for immediate consumption provided that they are free of charge.
  3. Gaming Hours – In an effort to develop a night economy that does not solely revolve around alcohol, the Bill proposes to clarify that licensees are able to stay open beyond the allowable hours of liquor service to provide other services such as food and entertainment. Significantly, the Bill proposes to remove the linkage of gaming hours to liquor consumption hours, so that gaming hours can be approved for a period of up to 2 hours after the service of alcohol ceases. A transitional provision will ensure that gaming hours existing as at the commencement of the Act will not be affected – that is current licensees can continue to conduct gaming during their current hours even if the Act would have the effect of reducing the licensee's liquor hours by more than 2 hours.

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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Robert Lyons
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