By Clyde Mooney

The Australian Hotels Association (NSW) wants more visibility on a controversial new liquor licensing assessment tool that is set to be trialled in Sydney CBD south precinct.

Having allowed a liquor licence freeze in the CBD south precinct to expire on December 24 last year, the NSW Government earmarked the area for a trial of the new 'Environment and Venue Assessment Tool' (EVAT).

NSW hospitality minister George Souris said the CBD south precinct was selected for the trial as it boasts the lowest average monthly assaults – less than half that of Kings Cross, which had its licence freeze extended until December 2015. 

The Oxford St/Darlinghurst precinct had its licence freeze extended despite registering one third fewer violent incidents than Kings Cross, as Souris said the NSW Government was of the opinion that the incident data for the [area] "is still of concern".

The new 'Environment and Venue Assessment Tool' (EVAT) stems from research – conducted by Allen Consulting under commission by the NSW Government – into the cumulative economic and social impacts of liquor licence density, and the CBD South trial will allow OLGR to evaluate in parallel with the two other precincts still under a freeze. 

But Souris said the Allen Consulting research will not be published until the EVAT trial is completed in 12 months, "to maintain the integrity of the research process when piloting the new assessment tool".

AHA (NSW) CEO Paul Nicolaou told TheShout the lack of visibility on the new tool is concerning for pubs. 

"The reality is that since the introduction of the Liquor Act in 2008, there has only been a very small number of traditional hotel licences approved, whilst there has been an explosion in packaged liquor licences across NSW, not just in the Sydney CBD," he said. 

"The liquor freeze actually prevented venues from refurbishing or improving, so this caused problems for some of our long-standing members across the CBD that actually wanted to invest and revitalise their venues. 

"Our concern is that this new process being used to evaluate liquor licence applications has been developed based on the results of a study that we haven't seen – and the process itself has not been justified. This is a matter we'll be taking up with the Government," said Nicolaou. 

The Shout Team

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

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1 Comment

  1. This so called EVAT tool is a concern for me as a solicitor specializing in this area of the law. It is another example of the present and disturbing trend towards the lack of transparency and accountability in this jurisdiction.

    How will applicants know why their applications have been refused, when this “tool” produces the proverbial red light agains the application being granted? The process will be a closely guarded secret and applicants will not be allowed to test the accuracy of the system itself or the accuracy of it’s implementation.

    Bruce Bulford.

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