By Clyde Mooney, editor Australian Hotelier

A review of the Liquor Act in WA could result in tougher fines for anti-social behaviour in a move toward mutual obligation for venues and their patrons.

Currently the Acts in most States see the onus put more on the venue operator to identify and manage patrons that are ‘drunk and disorderly’, but the Australian Hotels Association WA is one of those pressing for greater accountability by the patrons themselves. 

"There needs to be a deterrent," said AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods in a statement. "It balances out the equation of responsibility.

"At the moment the law is entirely focused on infringing or fining the licensee.”

The submission by WA Police recommends making it an offence to be drunk in licensed venues, but the AHA submission goes further to recommend it be an offence for patrons to be drunk, violent, quarrelsome, disorderly or indecent.

Speaking to TheShout, Tony Hatzis – director at hospitality specialist lawyers Hatzis Cusack – said NSW has some measures in place making patrons accountable for their actions, but the law still “places the responsibility on the publican to identify and remove a person identified as intoxicated”. 

As in WA, if the patron does not leave when asked, they are guilty of an offence carrying a penalty; in NSW this is up to $5500, although the reality is the practice of police issuing penalty notices for $550.

“In short, there is a policy of imposing greater responsibility on patrons, but current policy centres on removing people from licensed premises and preventing them being intoxicated in the streets,” said Hatzis. 

“There is nothing specifically making it a crime in the first place for people to drink in a hotel to a point of intoxication. 

“In my view, there is much to be said for imposing a penalty on the patron as a preventative measure, to get patrons to accept greater responsibility for their actions.”

West Australia’s Liquor Minister Terry Waldron reports that 149 submissions were received for the review, which is expected to be completed this month.

The Shout Team

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

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