By Andrew Starke

Every licensed venue in Victoria will be forced to provide free water to customers as part of their Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) mandate, with fines of up to $3500 for bar owners who don’t comply.

Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson said making venues provide free water as a condition of running a licensed business would help reduce the potential for drunken trouble in pubs and clubs.

“The Brumby Labor Government is determined to encourage a safer drinking culture in Victoria by ensuring licensees serve alcohol responsibly and patrons drink sensibly,” he said.

“Free drinking water will help reduce drunkenness by making it easier for patrons to have a non-alcoholic drink while they are out, slowing down the rate of intoxication.”

Robinson said the new law would apply to all licensed venues serving liquor for consumption on premises.

Failure to provide free drinking water would attract a fine of up to $3500.

“Licensees are already required by law to serve alcohol responsibly and encouraging patrons to drink water and providing it for free is an important part of that,” Robinson said.

It will be up to the venue to decide how to provide the free water.

Small restaurants and bars may find it easy to provide glasses of water on request, but a busy nightclub may find it more convenient to install water coolers or taps at specific water stations to avoid crowding at bar areas.

Guidelines introduced in 2004 encouraged pubs and clubs to provide free or cheap water but research by Liquor Licensing staff found many nightclubs charged $10 for bottled water and had only hot, soapy water running from taps in the bathrooms.

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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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