By Andrew Starke

Wholesale reforms made to Australian Capital Territory liquor regulation will face a tough test over the coming months as a review into licensing fee structures is concluded.

The Liquor Act 2010, which came into force on December 1, 2010, has been widely criticized by licensees and the wider community, prompting a decision by ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell in April to review the new rules.

While the State Government has sold the new legislation as a response to growing community concerns about the antisocial and violent behaviour associated with abuse of alcohol, its risk-based fee structure has divided the industry.

Corbell recently announced that 21 submissions had been received and would form part of a review which Government will present to the Legislative Assembly by October 1.

”The government is committed to an open and consultative process in relation to the Liquor Fees Review currently underway,” he said.

The timing of this review was agreed in the Legislative Assembly last year, as part of the process of developing risk based fees under the new liquor licensing laws.

The fees are required to offset the additional costs of ten new police officers and additional Office of Regulatory Services staff to address alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.

The 21 submissions raise a range of issues and suggestions about the level of fees, licensing categories, what risk factors should apply in deciding the level of fees and the $100,000 threshold for liquor purchases for sale.

The Australian Hotels Association lists 13 venues that have sold or closed since the changes, or are trying to, as part of its submission while a number of smaller venues felt the changes were complicated and expensive.

The ACT Rugby Union Club complained that it now had to shut at midnight and could not show Super Rugby or Tests live from South Africa as a result.

The Greens proposed to recalibrate the annual licence fees paid by pubs, clubs and bottle shops to create a fairer system that more accurately reflects the risk of alcohol fuelled violence posed by each venue.

Corbell said he appreciated the effort that has been made by the public, liquor industry stakeholders and the Greens in the submissions.

“The submissions, consultation with the Liquor Advisory Board and key industry stakeholders and data provided by a number of government agencies, particularly ACT Policing and the Office of Regulatory Services, will inform the review,” he said.

"The next step in the review will be consideration of options arising after analysis of the submissions and data.

”I will then hold a further round table meeting with key industry stakeholders, including the Liquor Advisory Board, in July to share with them preliminary findings from the review and to discuss with them issues raised by the liquor data and submissions.”


The Shout Team

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

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