By Andrew Starke
The NSW Parliament has introduced legislation restricting the issue of liquor licences to Sydney’s inner-city pubs and clubs while also preventing owners from expanding their premises.
As flagged by TheShout in June, the Liquor Amendment (Temporary Licence Freeze) Bill 2009 has been introduced to “restrict the granting of liquor licences and other liquor-related authorisations in certain precincts”.
The three temporary freeze zones – the George Street Entertainment Precinct, Kings Cross and Oxford Street / Darlinghurst – will be restricted from acquiring new liquor licences, increasing their trading hours and making any additions that will increase patron capacity until June 24 2010.
The Bill, to be debated in the NSW Legislative Assembly later this week, is likely to have a significant impact on pubs and clubs in licence freeze areas – especially those planning renovations to allow patrons to smoke within their premises.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city’s alcohol problems go beyond specific venues and are created by the concentration of venues and people on the streets.
“I want to use the freeze period to ensure we have new strategies to manage alcohol-related violence and amenity impacts, particularly in these areas that are at saturation with licensed premises,” she said.
Responding to a question from Moore in Parliament about what can be achieved during the freeze period, NSW Premier Nathan Rees said the Government would closely monitor outcomes and consider strengthening restrictions and changing responsible service of alcohol legislation.
For her part, Moore said she would push for planning measures that identify saturation zones to empower councils to better control new licensed venues and address issues like licensing obligations, education and late night transport.
“Liquor licences in the City of Sydney, where residents live in the highest densities in the state, outnumber licences within the whole of NSW by a ratio of more than five to one,” she said. “It is not sustainable to allow the number of licensed premises in these areas to continue to expand.”
“I want the freeze to also provide an opportunity for the continued growth of small bars and other alternative venues that provided a more civilised and diverse drinking culture, and offer an option to the big beer barns and drinking dens.”
To read the full Liquor Amendment (Temporary Licence Freeze) Bill 2009, click here.
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