By Andrew Starke

Victoria consumer affairs minister, Tony Robinson, has denied the state’s liquor industry is in crisis, citing figures that indicate moderate growth in the sector.

Opposition spokesperson on consumer affairs, Michael O’Brien, has lead the charge in denouncing the government’s new risk-based licence fees, claiming some businesses have handed in their licences rather than pay the fees.

However, Robinson said the industry had grown by almost 200 new, mainly low-risk early closing venues over the past year.

“On 1 January 2009, there were 19,297 licensed premises in Victoria. At 10 May this year, there were 19, 496,” Robinson said.

“Mr O’Brien’s wild claim the businesses are leaving the industry is completely groundless.

“While the Brumby Labor Government is taking action to establish a fairer liquor licensing system that recovers the real cost of regulating and policing the industry, all the Opposition can do is make up stories to about a fake crisis in a strong and vibrant industry to deceive Victorians.

“Far from being in crisis, the figures show Victoria’s liquor industry is clearly growing. It’s shameful for the Opposition to talk down local businesses and industry in a transparent attempt to score a cheap political point,” he said.

Robinson also assured Victorians the Compliance Directorate would meet its target of 25,000 inspections of licensed premises for FY 2009/10 and would be conducting focused enforcement activity in the next financial year.

“As at 9 May 2010, this Government’s 40-plus Compliance Directorate inspectors had carried out 23,691 inspections and are well on their way to meeting their target by the end of the financial year,” he said.

“When we established the Compliance Directorate, its first priority was to complete an industry- wide inspection program to educate licensees and identify hot spots and areas of concern.

“Next financial year, the Directorate will be taking a targeted approach to enforcement, focusing on the premises that present the greatest risk of harm and those who fail to comply with liquor laws.”

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The Shout Team

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

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