By Andrew Starke
The Victorian Government has a ‘lazy’ attitude to liquor legislation and is inclined to simply copy unproven policies from interstate.
This is the view of the Nightclub Owner’s Forum, which has responded angrily to a report by the Allen Consultancy Group that was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Justice.
Entitled ‘Alcohol-Related Harm and Licensed Premises’, the report attempts to identify and assess models for attributing costs arising from alcohol-related harm to licensed premises through a risk-based licensing fee structure.
The Victorian Government has used the report as the basis for its regulatory impact statement on Liquor Control Reform Regulations, which will ultimately impact on all liquor licensing in the State.
A spokesperson for the Nightclub Owner’s Forum, Peter Iwaniuk, said the proposals were a retrograde attempt to justify a decision already made by the State Government late last year to exorbitantly increase fees for late night trading by licensed venues.
“The State Government has almost exactly copied the Queensland model for structuring licence fees, as it did for the failed 2am lockout trial fiasco and the introduction of compliance officers,” he said.
“While Victoria was once a leader in the field in liquor licensing reform it now simply copies the work of other jurisdictions regardless of whether there is any evidence to indicate such measures work or appropriate for the much different Victorian context.”
While the Nightclub Owners Forum has no problem with Liquor Licensing Fees recouping costs that are strictly associated with the conduct of the Liquor Licensing Regime, Iwaniuk said it was ‘ludicrous’ that regulatory costs have increased to the extent where a further minimum fee rise of over 400 percent can be justified in just seven months.
The Association of Liquor Licensees Melbourne (ALLM) also responded to the Government’s reform statement by noting that licensing fees and licensing revenue collected should be transparent, appropriately targeted and applied directly to liquor licensing administration (including compliance), as opposed to contributing to ‘consolidated revenue’.
“The ALLM is bewildered therefore at the government’s (Ministerial) initial press announcements that increased licensing fees would be “earmarked” to provide for extra policing efforts,” it said in a statement.
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