By Andy Young
The Liquor Stores Association NSW (LSA NSW) has welcomed the proposed changes to the state’s Three Strikes Disciplinary Scheme, which are currently before Parliament as part of the Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017.
The Bill is the State Government’s response to the comprehensive review undertaken by the Hon Ian Callinan AC QC last year, which recommended a range of reforms to NSW’s liquor laws, including changes to the Three Strikes Scheme.
LSA NSW Executive Director Michael Waters has welcomed the proposed changes, calling them “sensible and pragmatic”.
“The proposed changes to the Three Strikes Scheme as part of the Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017 are sensible, pragmatic, and have been long-awaited by industry," Waters said.
“Having provision for a proper appeals process, and strikes for serious breaches of liquor laws to be incurred by individual licensees, rather than being attached to the actual licence, are important and common sense improvements that reinforces the importance of making servers directly accountable for their actions.
“As the Three Strikes Scheme was implemented in 2012 with little to no consultation, LSA commends the NSW Government for the way in which the review was undertaken, which included extensive consultation with all stakeholders – industry and the community.
“LSA is pleased that the voices of the community continue to be heard as part of the recent reforms, with Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW) having established a dedicated ‘community access team’ whose role is to assist, inform and educate community members so that they can participate in liquor related decisions, policy development and government initiatives.
“NSW has a rigorous licence evaluation process that includes extensive consultation requirements and community impact statements. Licence applications are time-consuming, expensive, and despite assertions from anti-alcohol groups that licences are always granted, many applications are rejected, including four packaged liquor licence applications within the past six months alone.
“For anti-alcohol groups to conveniently ignore these facts and insinuate that ‘community’ concerns have been ignored, or that they can’t have confidence in the regulatory framework is just not true, and quite frankly is an insult to the hundreds of L&GNSW and Authority staff, and the many thousands of people choosing to work in our industry, who have the great pleasure of serving and supporting their customers and community day in, day out."
The Australian Hotels Association NSW's Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green, also welcomed the proposed changes.
"The original Three Strikes legislation had unintended consequences for hotels that had significant financial ramifications for their businesses," Green said.
“We are glad to see the Government now move to introduce practical, common-sense measures.”
As well as the changes to the Three Strikes Scheme the Bill is also seeking to authorise the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, rather than the Departmental Secretary, to suspend a licence if liquor is sold to a minor on the licensed premises. There are also proposed amendments to the special licence conditions in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD Entertainment precincts, the freeze on granting of liquor licences in a prescribed precinct and regarding the fees and charges payable under the gaming and liquor legislation.
The Bill has passed its third reading of the Legislative Assembly and has been introduced to the Legislative Council today. Full details regarding the Bill and its progress are available on the NSW Parliament website.