By Annette Shailer
Teenagers will be recruited to spy on venues suspected of selling alcohol to minors as part of a five-year $37.2 million ‘Alcohol Action Plan’ announced on Friday by Victorian Premier John Brumby.
The underage operatives will test venues to see if alcohol is being sold illegally to youngsters a move to enforce a $17.6 million Liquor Licensing Compliance Directorate.
“This directorate will be responsible for the inspection and enforcement of liquor licence laws and will be staffed by 30 operators and six lawyers who will operate across the state,” Brumby said.
Part of the plan includes a lock-out that will see drinkers banned from entering inner-city pubs, clubs and bars after 2:00am as of June 3 for a three-month trial basis.
“Victoria currently has the lowest prevalence of crime against the person in Australia and we need to ensure we act to ensure this remains the case,” Brumby said. “This is an enforcement issue, a preventative health issue and a treatment issue.”
A 12-month ban on new late-night liquor licences in inner-Melbourne was implemented on Friday, with a risk-based licensing system being developed where licensees of high-risk venues will pay more than other ‘safer’ venues.
The initiative is being implemented to address alcohol abuse, alcohol-related violence, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related health problems.
Brumby believes alcohol abuse is the biggest social issue facing Victoria and has set up a taskforce last year focused on this issue chaired by Victorian Mental Health Minister, Lisa Neville.
“The cost to the Australian community of alcohol abuse through lost productivity and social and health impacts is $15.3 billion a year,” Neville said.
The councils affected by the ban include Melbourne, Yarra, Port Phillip and Stonnington. The gaming floor of Crown Casino has been exempt.
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