Liquor and Gaming New South Wales (L&GNSW), has released a report that has evaluated the special alcohol sales data requirement of licensed venues in the Kings Cross precinct of Sydney. The report recommends dropping the requirement.

The special requirement for the precinct came into effect on 1 January 2014, and required all licensed venues in the Kings Cross precinct to submit quarterly alcohol sales data reports to L&GNSW – in a specific format – for sales of alcohol made between 8pm and 5am.

After three full years of the requirement, L&GNSW endeavoured to evaluate the requirement and specifically to consider whether the policy was meeting its objectives, and the venue operators’ understanding of those objectives; the appropriateness and format of data presentation; the extent of the regulatory burden on venues; the level of compliance with the requirement; and other impacts of the requirement.

In a submission to L&GNSW, the local chamber of commerce, The Potts Point Partnership, expressed its concern surrounding the requirement, including the actual labour and resources burden the requirement imposes on operators. It also questioned the value and use of the data.

“There is no clear reason articulated by OLGR as to why this data is necessary and what it will be used for. Data was not collected prior to certain policy introductions so cannot be used for comparative purposes to measure success of a particular measure,” the submission stated.

The submission also called for all other special licensing requirements for the Kings Cross area to be reassessed.

Findings and recommendations

The report on the alcohol sales data requirement delivered the following key findings:

  1. The requirement has made only a limited contribution to informing policy decisions by the Government and has contributed little to shaping compliance efforts in Kings Cross
  2. A small number of stakeholders have expressed an interest in accessing and/or using the Kings Cross alcohol sales data, which is not widely available to stakeholders
  3. Industry stakeholders feel that the format of the data collection is not user friendly and that the level of detail required is too great
  4. The quality of data provided by smaller, lower risk venues is uncertain
  5. The requirement places a significant cost and administrative burden upon both venues and L&GNSW
  6. Venues typically understand the requirement yet have little understanding of its purpose
  7. Venue compliance with the requirement has decreased over time
  8. Some stakeholders support replacing the Kings Cross alcohol sales data requirement with a state-wide requirement for the collection of wholesale alcohol sales data.

As such, the report recommends that L&GNSW consider dropping the requirement, and to “continue to monitor the utility of wholesale alcohol sales data collection in other Australian jurisdictions, and consider collecting such data in NSW if it becomes apparent in the future that the benefits of such a collection would outweigh its costs.”

John Green, director of liquor and policing for the AHA NSW, hopes the recommendation is the beginning of compliance reform in Kings Cross.

“The requirement to provide alcohol sales data was just one of an avalanche of 36 different measures imposed on Kings Cross venues between 2012 and 2014. The review found the requirement for data was neither understood, nor actually used, by the regulators so it’s abolition is welcomed.

“AHA NSW hopes this may be the start of the removal of a range of unnecessary impositions currently in place on Kings Cross venues.”

The report acknowledged that the risk profile of  the Kings Cross area has changed dramatically since 2014, since special licensing requirements were introduced into the areas, and that the number of alcohol-related incidents has been reduced significantly. It therefore argues that alcohol sales data may no longer be a valid and appropriate licensing requirement.

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