By LSA NSW President David Reberger

Every day, for each customer we serve, my team and I and the thousands of others employed in our industry must make several very serious decisions in the five-ten seconds it takes to serve them. Is this person intoxicated? Do they look under 25? Do I need to refuse the service of alcohol? If we get it wrong it means we may personally lose our employment, are faced with significant personal and business fines, and are forever diminished in the eyes of the community we serve.

Serving liquor in NSW is probably the toughest job you can ask a young person in retail to choose as a career.

Yet it overwhelms me that so many choose to do so because for the vast majority of our customers it means bringing joy into their lives. The tradie grabbing a six pack of bourbon and cola to slake a thirst after a scorching day in the sun. The teacher enjoying a glass from a nice crisp wine as they mark their pupils best efforts. The lawn mower enjoying the pleasure of a hard earned thirst, or the couple who pop a cork to celebrate a milestone in their lives. It really is a great industry in which to work.

While the majority who sell packaged liquor in NSW do not have sufficient customers to justify opening after 10pm, many of my colleagues do for one reason or another.

They may be on a high street that has many workers returning home late looking to grab a bottle to enjoy over a meal at the local late night eatery. It could be they caught a late show, concert, art performance or event and would like to relive the occasion a little longer over a nightcap. It could be a tourist just disembarked from a country that enjoys significantly more freedoms than ours. Or it just might be a group of friends that have had a wonderful evening and have picked up some takeaway pizza to enjoy alongside one last drink at home.

Regardless of the reason, these adults who should be entrusted to make decisions about their own lives and when and how they choose to drink are presently denied a basic human right afforded to every other citizen of Australia outside of NSW.

As attested by the remarkably few packaged venues on the ‘three strikes’ list, our industry is favourably viewed for knowing our customers and doing the right thing by the communities we serve.

We also think our customers are mature adults who weren't doing anything wrong by being able to make a purchase after 10pm. And the evidence supports this.

You can't ask for more compelling evidence than that provided by the data of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The 10pm forced closure measure for packaged liquor sales did not move the trend line one iota from its previous downward trajectory.

Let me say that again. The state-wide forced 10pm close did not change the rate of alcohol-related domestic violence from its previous downward trend line.

In light of this clear cut evidence, we have recommended to the Government the following measures:

1. The ability for liquor stores across NSW to be automatically entitled to up to 12 extended trading occasions beyond 10pm per year for take-away alcohol sales, and;

2. Provision for liquor stores across NSW to be entitled to an exemption to trade beyond 10pm, on application, where there was a demonstrated need for more than 12 occasions per year.

These are reasonable and common sense recommendations that get the balance right between respecting individual freedoms while protecting the larger community from harm.

We share a desire for NSW to be the number one State, so we continue to act in good faith and entrust our parliament to govern for all its citizens when reviewing the lockout laws. Liquor store owners stand ready and willing to re-instate the rosters and shifts of our team members to serve the modern lifestyle of today's and tomorrow's New South Welshmen-and-women.

The Shout Team

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

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1 Comment

  1. While I have no reason for my store to be open beyond 10pm, I struggle with the idea that someone can buy a large qty of alcohol at 9:59pm and be within RSA and legal requirements, yet I am unable to sell a stubbie of light beer at 10pm to a regular customer.

    David Rebergershould be calling for removal of the political knee jerk response 10pm closure laws instead of exemptions and extended trading occasions and the additional red tape and costs this will cause to independent bottleshops.

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