The Victorian Labor party has said it will abolish alcohol free zones in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs if it is re-elected at the state election being held later this month.
Currently the residents of suburbs in Ashburton, Glen Iris, Camberwell, Canterbury, Box Hill, Balwyn, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills are required to vote on any new liquor licences in these areas. Labor says that these rules have cost taxpayers almost $500,000 since 2004 and that each of the 20 polls carried out since 2012 has seen the new licence approved.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the rules are a waste of money and vowed to get rid of them if his party retains power in the state.
“These archaic laws are a waste of money and an unnecessary burden on locals – and we’ll get rid of them,” he said.
“Melbourne’s local pubs, restaurants and bars are part of what makes our city great. This change is good news for our hospitality industry and great for jobs.”
The Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, told the ABC: “There are already a number of licensed venues that exist within the remaining dry area.
“We are removing these laws, we are bringing these laws in line with the rest of the state.”
“We know and we value that Victoria is a cosmopolitan and a contemporary state.
“The change will build on the importance of Victoria’s cafe and restaurant culture.”
Paddy O’Sullivan the CEO of the Australian Hotels Association Victoria welcomed the announcement, telling 3AW: “I think it’s a great idea. Victoria is open for business so why not Camberwell, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills as well.
“This announcement will hopefully see the opportunity for those who live in those areas to have a hotel development proposed for their area, rather than having to travel elsewhere.”
Opposition leader Matthew Guy dismissed the idea, saying that there are more urgent priorities for the areas.
“Melbourne’s eastern suburbs will have a choice of priorities at the next election, whether they want more police under a Liberal Nationals government, or more nightclubs under a Labor government,” he said.