By Andy Young
The Liquor Stores Association NSW (LSA NSW) has commended the state's government for reviewing the impact of the take-away sales restrictions which were introduced as part of the measures designed to reduce alcohol-related violence.
Those restrictions imposed a 10pm closing time for all bottleshops in NSW and LSA NSW's executive director Michael Waters hopes the review will offer regional bottleshops the opportunity to trade later on certain occasions.
Waters said: "Given the fact that alcohol-related assault across NSW had been in consistent decline for five years prior to the introduction of the State-wide 10pm take-away sales restriction (Mar-09 – Mar-14) at an average rate of -5.8 per cent per year, LSA NSW questions whether the restriction was necessary in the first place.
"A need does exist for some liquor stores in regional NSW to trade beyond 10pm during specific occasions or periods of demand, to service and convenience their customers and local communities.
“This blanket measure has punished responsible licensees and individuals, and has reduced service and convenience for customers, with members telling us they have had to reduce staff; that customers have been confused, frustrated, and in some instances aggressive toward staff, with reported increases in ‘grab and run’ theft.
"It makes sense for policy to reflect the sensible drinking habits of the majority of NSW residents rather than punish everyone for the idiocy of a few that break society's rules by assaulting another human being, and if a customer wants to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with a late night BYO dinner or supper then it makes sense to allow a responsible liquor store to be able to sell it to them.
“LSA NSW is not advocating for a complete wind back, but is seeking sensible policy outcomes that recognise a ‘one size fits all’ approach to policy making is not the solution, and look forward to ongoing dialogue with Government on this matter”, Waters added.
Karen Howe, president of the Broken Hill Liquor Accord, echoed Waters in welcoming the review. She told the ABC: "They've gone and put in a blanket rule, whereas the country is not experiencing those issues, and all it has done is not only hinder businesses and revenue but also it's also hindered jobs."