By Andrew Starke
Melbourne’s inner city bars and nightclubs will not be able to apply for late-night liquor licences for another two years, due to a continuing ban imposed by the Victorian Government.
Details of applications for new liquor licences and changes to existing licences in the State are also now available online, allowing local residents to have a greater say on licensed premises in their community.
“Residents’ groups have said they want information about new liquor licence applications in one place so they can keep on top of any applications in their local area and consider whether to lodge objections,” said consumer affairs minister Tony Robinson.
The new Liquor Licensing Applications Noticeboard will provide the address of proposed venue; the type of application; the local government area; and the date the application was received. Names of applicants will not be listed for privacy reasons.
Robinson said the Brumby Labor Government was responding to community concerns about licensed venues, extending a freeze on new late-night licences in inner Melbourne and giving local councils stronger powers to consider the cumulative impact of licensed premises in the local area when considering planning permissions for venues.
“Victoria has a worldclass restaurant and bar culture that we want to maintain but we need to get the balance right to maintain the liveability of our cities,” he said.
The state’s freeze on late-night licences was introduced in May 2008, banning all bars and nightclubs from applying for new licensing to operate after 1am in the city centre.
It was extended a further two years yesterday (Aug 23) and now includes the areas of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra, Stonnington and Docklands.
Residents 3000 president Peter Matthews welcomed the new website, saying the information would help residents become a part of liquor licensing process.
“Putting liquor application on-line will make it easier for people living in Melbourne to have a say about where licensed premises should be placed because residents bring special knowledge of the area to the process,” Matthews said.
The Liquor Licensing Applications Noticeboard does not replace applicants’ notification and advertisement requirements under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.
Information on a licence application will be updated on the Department of Justice website weekly and removed after being displayed for a month.
The new website will also include information on who may lodge an objection, the grounds for doing so, and how to lodge it.
Contacted for his reaction by TheShout, Nightclub Owners Forum convenor, Peter Iwaniuk, said the Melbourne Nightclub Owners Forum welcomed any initiative that makes the liquor licensing system more transparent and accessible.
“However moves by the Brumby Government to exorbitantly increase licence fees and impose a freeze on new late night licences shows the Government is out of touch with both the needs of the industry and the general public,” he said. “Nightclub capacity is driven by demand and artificially restricting capacity will only result in longer queues, more public frustration and more uncontrolled drinking in the streets and in private parties."
To access the Liquor Licensing Applications Noticeboard, click here. Click on ‘Alcohol’ and follow the link to the ‘About Liquor Licensing’ section.
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