By James Atkinson

The New South Wales liquor regulator has questioned why it has not been asked on more occasions to use its powers to ban rogue operators from the liquor industry.

In a recent address, Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) chairperson Chris Sidoti said the NSW Liquor Act gives the Authority very extensive powers to impose penalties on licensed premises and those associated with them who flout the liquor laws. 

"This includes cancelling their liquor licence, disqualifying individuals from future participation in the liquor industry, imposing monetary penalties and so forth," he said.

"I have to say that it has been somewhat of a surprise to the Authority that over the past five years we have been asked to exercise these powers on no more than a handful of occasions," Sidoti said.

He said that in the past five years the ILGA's Victorian equivalent – the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) – has acted to disqualify a total of 77 companies and individuals from the liquor industry in that state for periods ranging up to 15 years

"In exercising its disciplinary functions – and excluding some matters that are currently on foot – our Authority has been asked over the same time period to take action on liquor-related grounds against fewer than 10 individuals relating to just 6 licensed premises," Sidoti said.

"There are under-utilised provisions here that can assist in addressing alcohol-related crime, especially alcohol-related violence," he said.

"I have been surprised, in particular, that we have not had a significant number of applications that seek to reduce excessive trading hours."

Sidoti said the ILGA's disciplinary powers are constrained by the Liquor Act, in that the authority can only deal with disciplinary matters on an individual licence-by-licence basis, rather than taking a precinct-wide approach.

"Nonetheless they are not being utilised as much as they might be to address alcohol related violence or disturbance," he said.

The address by Sidoti to a NSW legal seminar took place in March this year, but was not published on the ILGA website until late last week.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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