By Andrew Starke
A loophole that is likely to allow a Newcastle nightclub to trade over the Easter weekend may prompt a full review of NSW liquor laws as the State Government commits itself to cracking down on operators.
At the centre of the furore is the Kensington nightclub which Minister for Major Events and Hospitality, George Souris, says is operating under a catering licence having twice failed to secure a liquor licence.
The venue opened late last week and hosted an estimated 400 to 500 patrons until midnight.
It plans three similar events over the Easter long weekend.
Souris is believed to be meeting with his department today (April 18) to decide whether there are existing measures to deal with the issue or legislation is needed to close the loophole.
Either way it appears certain that using a caterer’s licence on numerous occasions in the same premises contravenes the intent of the legislation.
Over the weekend Police Association acting president Pat Gooley criticised the Kensington’s owner, Wadalba Properties, for using a loophole to open the venue.
“Just because they have a caterer’s licence doesn’t change the fact that this is a nightclub opening its doors to 550 people just down the road from NSW’s third-most violent pub, Fannys,’’ Gooley told the Newcastle Herald.
“The owners of this nightclub know they are exploiting a loophole in the system and they don’t care. All this rogue trader cares about it making a profit.”
Last month the owners were refused permission to transfer the liquor licence from the former Jolly Roger Nightclub in King Street to their new venture, The Kensington, in Hunter Street.
Tough liquor licensing laws have been trialled in Newcastle since March 2008.
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