By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
The mandated five-yearly statutory review of the liquor and gaming Acts of 2007 is underway and industry voices are calling for some changes to key definitions.
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW has made a submission to the State’s governing body asking for changes it sees necessary for the continued relevance of the Acts, which is the primary purpose of the scheduled reviews.
Most significantly, the AHA would like to see a tighter definition of ‘intoxicated’ to bring NSW in line with other States.
“The current definition of intoxicated is open to subjective interpretation and in our opinion is too broad,” AHA NSW CEO Paul Nicolaou said to TheShout. “Currently any person who consumes any alcohol is ‘intoxicated’.
“All the AHA NSW has suggested is to add the word “unduly” to intoxicated, to clarify that a person has reached a stage where action has to be taken.”
The new definition would seek to include patrons who are showing problematic signs of intoxication: swaying or loss of balance, aggression or belligerence, sleeping, slurred speech.
Last week mainstream media reported that the AHA submission contained claims of “punitive and in some cases vindictive” police, conducting inappropriate inspections of premises when they should be cracking down on alcohol-related violence.
The Association retorts its relationship with the NSW police force is strong, but does advocate venue compliance handling by OLGR.
“We have a great relationship with police – that’s one of the reasons why assault levels in and around licensed premises are at record lows,” continued Nicolaou.
“In another area of the submission, the AHA NSW submits that OLGR be given sole responsibility for signage compliance matters, as some police issue penalties in a punitive or vindictive manner.
“The truth is that the vast majority of licensing police have an excellent rapport with licensees and perform their jobs professionally.”
Similarly, Merivale has made a submission on the review of the Act, arguing against the blanket rules of the State’s list of violent venues that impose increasing restrictions with increasing assault numbers.
Merivale’s flagship venue, ivy, topped the list in May, having recorded 24 assaults in the previous year.
CEO Brett Sergeant proposes a system to take into account the venue’s size and the incident severity, with penalty points imposed on venues rated according to size – from ‘small’ to ‘precinct’.
Sergeant argues the current system is ''unfairly structured against large venues and fails to capture some of the state's smaller but more violent establishments''.
The violent venues system was introduced in 2008 by the then Labor Government; current NSW hospitality minister George Souris has previously conceded that the system unfairly discriminates against larger venues.
Submissions to the review of the Liquor Act closed at the end of August.