By Andy Young

The Liquor Stores Association New South Wales (LSA NSW) has said the Callinan Review, which was published earlier this week, does contain some positive recommendations, but does not go far enough.

The review looked into the impact of the amendments to the NSW Liquor Act, which were brought into force in 2014 and saw the forced closure of bottleshops at 10pm across the state. LSA NSW Executive Director Michael Waters has called on the Government to think beyond the recommendations in the report when considering its response to the review.

Former High Court Judge Ian Callinan AC recommended that the closing time for bottleshops be changed to 11pm and midnight for alcohol delivery services.

Waters said: “The recommendation in the review report which pushes back the closing time for bottleshops to 11pm represents progress, but if Sydney, and NSW, is serious about fixing the damage to its reputation as a vibrant, international entertainment and tourism destination, further change is required.

“The retail liquor industry remains supportive of more flexible closing times for bottleshops.

“For example, if a major event is taking place in a particular city, suburb or town, then operators of liquor stores should be able to apply for special permission which enables them to trade earlier or later on no more than one occasion per month.

“By comparison, bottleshops in Victoria are able to apply for extended hours, which is particularly important on a day like Melbourne Cup day, and Victoria has very few issues with anti-social behaviour as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol.”

In its submission to the Callinan Review earlier this year, the LSA NSW made several recommendations for change, including an “automatic provision for all take-away packaged liquor licences in NSW to be entitled to up to twelve (12) extended trading occasions (until 12:00am) per year for take-away alcohol sales.

In his review Callinan said: “The sale of takeaway alcohol, whether before or after 10pm, makes little or no contribution to violence and anti-social behaviour in the Precincts, even less so when it is home delivered.”

The LSA NSW added that the 2014 amendments failed to recognise that the majority of people do not drink to get drunk and that the retail liquor industry had a number of responsible consumption of alcohol initiatives to combat those who do.

Waters added: ““Bottleshops across NSW remain committed to reducing alcohol-related violence and believe a targeted, evidence-based approach to policy-making, delivered in partnership with all stakeholders, is the most effective way of minimising harm.

“This includes ensuring there is a level-playing field when it comes to trading hours for take-away or packaged liquor for all licensees.

“If not, there is a risk that small, family-owned businesses which suffered job losses as a result of the 2014 changes will be forced to cut staff even further, many of whom are young people with limited other employment opportunities in regional communities.”

The NSW Government is now considering its response to the Review, while Opposition Leader Luke Foley has said that he plans to extend takeaway alcohol sales in country areas to midnight if he wins the next election.

The Shout Team

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

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