Australia: Hospitality Law: Tackling alcohol - fuelled violence: Legislation amendment bill

Last Updated: 16 February 2016
Article by Roland O’Regan

On 12 November 2015, the Honourable Attorney- General for the State of Queensland introduced the Tackling Alcohol - Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, which supports the Government's comprehensive multi-faceted policy framework aimed at changing the culture around drinking, promoting responsible drinking practices and ensuring a safer environment.

The Bill makes numerous amendments to the Liquor Act 1992 to stop the sale and supply of alcohol at 2.00am state - wide, with no lock out except in certain prescribed safe night precinct. New liquor trading hours will commence on 1 July 2016.

The amendments will provide for safe night precincts to be prescribed by regulation to allow for 3.00am liquor trading with a 1.00am lockout following a thorough consultation and application process. If local boards do not wish their precinct to be subject to the lockout, they may opt to remain a 2.00am precinct. If a 3.00am safe night precinct is declared, licensees who currently have approval for liquor trading until 3.00am or later will automatically be approved to sell or supply liquor until 3.00am from 1 July 2016. However, licensees without extended liquor trading hours approval for the venue will still be required to apply individually for approval for liquor trading up to 3.00am through usual late- night liquor trading application processes. The lockout provisions will apply to all post 1.00am liquor traders in the precinct.

It is intended that licensees will be able to stay open beyond the hours of liquor service to provide other services, such as a food, non- alcoholic beverages and entertainment. New provisions commencing on the 1 July 2016 will remove the linkage of gaming hours to liquor consumption hours. Gaming applications will be able to be approved for a period of up to 2 hours after the cessation of the service of liquor at the licensed premises. This will allow gaming services up to 5.00am in the prescribed safe night precincts and 4.00am outside of prescribed safe night precincts upon approval. Furthermore, amendments in the Bill enable licensees that offer gaming and adult entertainment to continue to provide those activities for the duration of the approved gaming and adult entertainment hours in effect immediately prior to 1 July 2016. Despite the wind back of liquor trading hours on 1 July 2016.

Other amendments

The Bill amends the Liquor Act in so far as:

  • to prohibit new approvals for the sale of take away liquor after 10.00pm. From 10 November 2015, any late night extended trading applications for take away sales that were still with the Commissioner for determination are void. No new applications can be accepted. These amendments do not apply to existing trading approvals for take away liquor. Licensees who currently have approval to sell or supply take away liquor to 12 midnight may continue to do so.
  • to allow a regulation to be declared to ban the service of high- alcohol content drinks and alcoholic beverages designed to be consumed rapidly after midnight. However, the Bill allows for an exemption to be granted for the operational small bars specialising in the sale of premium spirits. The definition of premium spirits will be prescribed by regulation.
  • to clarify that the results of breath tests taken in accordance with current police powers are admissible as evidence in prosecutions against a licensee.
  • to ensure that the Commissioner gives written notice of an approved manager's suspension or cancellation to the licensee who employs the approved manager. The Bill also includes amendments intended to create a safer environment in and around licensed premises.
  • to reinstate the ability for the requirements of a risk assessed management plan to be specified under a regulation, which was inadvertently removed by the previous government.
  • that Brisbane licensees need only enter information regarding incidents into the Incident Register under the Liquor Act if the incident is not recorded in the Crowd Controller Register.
  • to clarify that food additives or substances used as ingredients in food preparation are not subject to the Act. This exclusion of food additives only applies to those substances that must be consumed as an option to or increasing of another substance.

In recognition that Queensland is home to a vibrant and growing craft beer industry, amendments to the Liquor Act place craft beer producers on an equal footing with wine producers by allowing the sale of craft beer at promotional events such as food and wine festivals.

It appears that a review of this Bill indicates that the Queensland Government is committed to building a safer community and a vibrant night - life by tackling alcohol fuelled violence. The polices and reforms introduced in the Bill demonstrate that the State Government is committed to reducing alcohol related violence in Queensland.

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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