The NSW Government is testing compliance to new alcohol delivery regulation reform which was introduced earlier this year.
The reforms were introduced in July and aimed to make it harder for minors and problem drinkers to access alcohol via online ordering and express delivery options. Today, December 1, was the deadline for all staff to be trained in the new regulation, and also marks the start of Liquor & Gaming NSW’s two-phase operation to test retailer compliance.
Dimitri Argeres, Director Compliance for Liquor & Gaming NSW, said this operation will start with an audit of the mandatory training, data records and supplier websites. The second phase will extend on this with the use of secret shoppers.
“We will be conducting covert secret shopper activities to see how successful we are at buying alcohol outside the legal obligations and whether any laws are breached, all the way to the front door,” said Argeres.
“We will be testing those requirements, just like a minor or intoxicated person might do, to make sure that the legislation is functioning as intended and that delivery providers are complying with their obligations.”
Many of the reformed regulation points had already been used by a large number of retailers, thanks to the Retail Drinks Online Alcohol and Delivery Code of Conduct. Recognised across the country and world as a best practice model for responsible online alcohol sale and delivery, the Code has also influenced global guidelines from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.
Retail Drinks CEO, Michael Waters, said: “As a driving force in responsible liquor retailing, we know that reputable businesses who are already Signatories to our Online Alcohol Sale & Delivery Code of Conduct (Code) are committed to doing the right thing, with Code Signatories representing more than 80 per cent of all alcohol purchased online in Australia.
“Officially launched in July 2019, the Code is an industry-wide framework which implements a comprehensive range of measures to enhance responsibility in the online sale and delivery of alcohol.
“Many elements of the NSW Government’s same-day alcohol delivery reforms closely reflected the existing requirements from our Code, including mandatory delivery driver training, a ban on same-day unattended alcohol deliveries, age verification requirements, ensuring that alcohol is not sold or supplied to minors or intoxicated persons, and ensuring that retailers provide customers with self-exclusion options.
“While most of the new legislative requirements in NSW are already underway, the age verification regulations for same-day alcohol deliveries do not come into effect until June 2022, and we continue to proactively work with industry and government stakeholders to ensure that the industry and online age verification technology is accessible and fit-for-purpose by this date.
“To further demonstrate our industry’s commitment to retailing responsibly, Code Signatories are also subject to regular independent mystery shop audits, and since January 2020 we’ve conducted over 7,000 audits – a significant number and investment to monitor and enhance compliance in this rapidly evolving space.”
Liquor & Gaming NSW noted that since the start of COVID lockdowns last year, there were now a large number of businesses which are delivering products with an online or packaged liquor licence. Thanks to the flexible approach of these times, this now includes not only bottle shops but also small bars, hotels and restaurants, and Argeres said it was important for all businesses to be reminded of the regulation changes.
“There are now many more players on the field and we are reminding all businesses to get familiar with the law,” he said.