By James Atkinson
Western Australian pubs, bottleshops and small bars have detailed their priority issues to get on the agenda of a crucial upcoming review of the state's Liquor Control Act.
Liquor Stores Association WA executive director Lindsay James told TheShout that getting Sunday trading in place for country liquor stores – those of which are in areas that are not subject to any other alcohol restrictions – is a key issue for his members.
Currently there are 35 country stores in tourism precincts with special dispensation to trade on Sundays. If Sunday trading is not introduced more broadly, then James said the LSA will be seeking redress of the onerous requirement for these 35 stores to submit a public interest assessment every time they reapply for an extended trading permit.
The LSA will also be campaigning for licensing of all outlets that provide liquor products for sale "such as home brew establishments that currently are not licensed nor have any obligation to responsible server practices", James added.
The Australian Hotels Association (WA) will place on the review agenda the "1950s era regulations" restricting trading hours for hotels and small bars to close at midnight Monday to Saturday and at 10pm on Sundays, according to CEO Bradley Woods.
"Extensive public consultation will be critical for the government to get the best possible outcomes for the public and the industry, especially with the prospect of 1700 restaurant licenses selling liquor without meals and becoming bars," he added.
Small bar owner Daniel Morris, who endured a torrid time battling to obtain a liquor licence for his new Victoria Park venue The Precinct, called for the approval process to accommodate closer engagement between regulators and new licence applicants.
While The Precinct was eventually granted a liquor licence, Morris told TheShout licensing authorities need to improve their understanding of "what is actually going on in the industry and the changes that are happening and the young people that are pushing for them".
He said the new generation of bar operators wants to give their customers an 'experience', with a more premium food and beverage offering.
"To do this they need laws to be working for them," he said.
"If a young person wants to open up a bar and needs to pay $20,000 for a lawyer to get a liquor licence rather than spend that money on air conditioners, ovens and fridges, Western Australia will only see people with lots of money and resources open venues rather than the cosmopolitan diversity of a Melbourne hospitality scene."