By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The AHA SA has released its response to the proposed changes to the state’s Liquor Licensing Act, stating their disappointment with several of the suggested amendments.

In October 2015 the South Australian Government announced that they would begin a review process of the state’s liquor licensing laws, the first time the legislation had been reviewed in almost two decades. Former Supreme Court judge, Tim Anderson, headed the review. His findings were released in June 2016.

The Government also called for community consultation and responses to the propose amendments which include packaged liquor licences attached to hotels, shopping complexes and supermarkets being unable to trade after 10pm; and that the licensee or another responsible person having to oversee a crowd controller when they are ejecting someone from the premises among.

However the proposed amendment which is causing the greatest furore among the state’s hotel industry is the ‘non-compliance register (section 135A)’, where venues that have served a minor will be named on a publically-accessible list for up to five years, effectively creating a ‘name and shame’ register.

Ian Horne, general manager of the AHA SA, last week released the AHA SA’s letter to the LLP submission committee, which responded to the proposed changes. Horne began the letter by showing his appreciation for the “collegiate and collaborative” review process, and stated that the AHA SA was pleased that “the State Government has chosen not to adopt many of the more draconian measures recommended by The Hon. Tim Anderson,” including additional licence fees attached to breaches surrounding serving minors or intoxicated persons, and making a landlord liable is a licensee is found guilty of an offense.

Horne, however also took issue with some of the recommendations that the Government had retained.

“However some significant issues remain. These include; the detail of the proposed Community Impact Assessment (CIA), the proposal to impose significant additional liquor licence fees on licensees and the intention to introduce drug and alcohol testing of Responsible Persons (RPs)… make no mistake, the AHA SA will oppose the last two of these recommendations in the strongest possible terms.”

“SA is faced with and economic climate of high unemployment, high and rapidly escalating electricity costs, power insecurity and a stagnant population growth. An additional imposition of massive and baseless liquor licence fees will further restrict businesses’ ability to survive, to financially support related industries such as premium wine and food and live music, and will simply send them the message that they are seen by Government as nothing more than cash cows.”

In the letter, Horne outlines the AHA SA’s position on the amendments, with recommended changes to several of them. In response to the creation of the non-compliance register, Horne stated that the AHA SA did not support the amendment to publish a “black list”, questioning the purpose of the register, opining: “There is simply no rationale to justify why this offence is more important than others. This is not to suggest that serving a minor is a trivial matter, simply that an indefinite black list serves no particular purpose except to impose more red tape.”

The last proposed amendment that the letter addressed Amendment 96, which recommends the increase in liquor licence fees. The AHASA responded:

“The SA hotel industry contributes enormously to the State’s economic wellbeing. Any measure which impacts the industry by even as little as 5% will affect jobs. Pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the hands of hoteliers will affect jobs and related industries.

“Hoteliers will view a huge fee increase cynically, even if they can afford to pay it, in a climate of economic uncertainty and massive increases in energy costs with no end in sight.

“The AHA SA urges the State Government to not increase licence fees and at the very least to defer any increase for at least two more years.”

The letter can be read in its entirety, here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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