Shortly before midnight on Thursday 3 September 2009 the Liquor
Amendment (Temporary Licence Freeze) Bill 2009 was introduced into
the lower house and agreed in principle.
The Bill provides important details that have been eagerly
anticipated since the announcement of the freeze on the grant of
new liquor licences was made in June.
As predicted in our June update ( click here) the freeze is retrospective, and
will apply to applications made on or after 25 June 2009. At this
stage, the freeze will end on 24 June 2010 (but may be extended).
The freeze will also extend beyond preventing merely the grant of
new licences and will also prevent the grant of other types of
licence applications for existing approved premises, and
development applications, as explained below.
The introduction of the Bill now provides some certainty in
terms of the areas and types of licence applications affected by
the freeze. The affected areas are listed further below.
Operators located close to any of the affected areas should be
careful to check that their premises are not caught – for
example a premises may be within an affected area even if it merely
backs onto or abuts an affected street. Importantly, a premises may
be within an affected area if the regulations provide that the
premises are in the immediate vicinity of an affected street. The
Bill therefore reserves a broad power for the regulations to extend
the application of the freeze.
The Bill introduces the concept of an application being
"likely to result in an increase in the number of persons who
enter the freeze precinct in which the premises is situated
principally to consume alcohol" ("Likelihood
Test"). This test broadens the range of licence types
and licence applications that may be affected by the freeze.
The primary applications affected will be applications for the
grant of new hotel, on premises public entertainment (other than
cinema or theatre), club, packaged liquor, and producer/wholesaler
licences. The grant of such licences within affected areas is
absolutely prohibited during the freeze period.
Applications for other on-premises licences will be affected to
the extent that the Authority believes that the grant of the
application would fail the Likelihood Test.
The Likelihood Test will also apply to extend the reach of the
freeze to cover other types of licensing applications, such as
primary service authorisations, removal of licences into freeze
areas, and redefinition of boundaries. Unless an applicant is able
to convince the Authority that the application will not result in
an increase of patrons to the area principally to consume alcohol,
these applications will be refused. In practice most of these
applications will fail the Likelihood Test. For example, an
approval to serve alcohol without another product or service, to
open a new licensed premises under an existing licence removed to
the area, or to expand a premises, will almost certainly fail the
Likelihood Test. The critical issue is whether the application will
result in more people in the area drinking.
In an unexpected twist, the freeze will also apply to prevent
development consents from being granted in the affected areas (ie.
All proposals for new or refurbished premises located close to
these affected areas should carefully consider the application and
impact of the freeze provisions and obtain appropriate advice at an
The city is affected along George Street between Park Street and
Hay Street, and on Goulburn Street and Liverpool Streets between
George and Castlereagh Streets.
Darlinghurst and Surry Hills are affected along Oxford Street
from College Street to Flinders Street, along Flinders Street to
Short Street and generally in the triangle bounded by Campbell
Street, Crown Street and Oxford Street (including Bourke Street
from Patterson Lane).
Kings Cross is affected along Darlinghurst Road from William
Street to Macleay Street and along Bayswater Road from Darlinghurst
Road to Ward Avenue.
Because of the high costs, royal commissions should only be convened to address issues of substantial public importance.
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