By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier

The risk-based liquor licensing scheme announced by the New South Wales Government amounts to a “cash grab”, legal expert David Sylvester has told TheShout.

The OLGR on Friday outlined the first steps in a new liquor licensing regime that requires venues to pay annually to renew licences with “risk-based loadings” dependent on capacity and location if the venue has had licensing offences in the previous calendar year. 

Adding to strong criticism of the scheme from packaged liquor retailers, Sylvester & Browne principal David Sylvester said it is outrageous that a single offence – which could be as minor as failing to record an incident in the incident book – would increase the annual fee for the average pub from $500 to $11,500.

“The mere fact that a venue is located within the Sydney CBD precinct should not in my view dictate that they should be treated in the same way that a violent venue or a venue with a poor compliance history is treated,” he said. 

“Notwithstanding that the scheme dictates prescribed offences as those falling under s11 or 144B of the Act, it is arguable that some offences falling under or emanating from these sections are not serious offences at all. 

“What’s going to happen is that all venues will take any penalty or breach notice to court to be independently adjudicated by a magistrate. While a typical ‘penalty or breach’ ticket is for $1100, it may cost from $5,000 to $10,000 to defend one of these matters in a court hearing, so the operators are hit in the pocket yet again. 

“This is over and above the massive losses venues in the lock-out precinct are already suffering as people find alternatives for going out in those areas.”

AHA NSW director of policing John Green said the additional taxes must be used by the State Government to improve infrastructure for the late night economy including more transport, more policing and better lighting. 

“AHA NSW believes that any business that benefits from late night trading should contribute to the cost of implementing measures that increase safety – including the many fast food outlets located near hotels and clubs,” he said.

“AHA NSW also notes that one of the triggers for the compliance loading is any breach of a liquor licence condition. Many of these conditions are old and badly worded and need to be reviewed to ensure they are relevant in 2014, otherwise some venues will be unfairly burdened with additional taxes.”

For more information on the new scheme, visit the OLGR website

The Shout Team

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

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  1. I’m a bottle shop owner and have many factual based reasons why the new money grab legislation is flawed. However has John Green been in one too many of his client’s Public Bars? Rather than represent the AHA with meaningful dialogue, his option is to say that all Kebab shop owners should cover the cost of educating and disciplining Gen Y on how to behave when they’v had a drink.

  2. What’s the story with this John Green character?

    Aren’t the AHA supposed to be vigorously representing member pubs/clubs affected by this ridiculous revenue raising law?

    Sheesh, where’s the strong rhetoric from the AHA regarding this issue and the massive financial burden it is placing on members. Not only do we have to put up with a 30-40% drop in trade because of these lock-outs, now we are being smashed with unjustified fees to simply open the pub. Absolutely disgraceful.

    I have been paying my membership fees for 20 years and that is the response we get. If Green’s comments are indicative of the AHA’s general lame attitude to this problem, I can’t see myself renewing my membership.

    Frustrated owner/operator.

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