By Andrew Starke
The licensee of a Geelong nightclub has been ordered to close the venue immediately pending an inquiry into allegations the liquor licence was fraudulently obtained.
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Michael O'Brien, today (July 15) said the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) granted the interim injunction earlier this week to immediately close Rush Nightclub pending the outcome of the inquiry.
The injunction restrains the licensee, Graeme Gray-Macintosh, as well as Robert Thornley, Rush (Vic) Pty Ltd, Patrick Patching, and Reuben Dutschke, who are alleged to have been involved in the management and operation of the nightclub.
The grounds upon which the Director of Liquor Licensing is seeking an inquiry are whether Gray-Macintosh:
- made false or misleading statements in or in relation to an application or notice;
- permitted another person to carry on a business of supplying liquor on the licensed premises;
- failed to ensure that a copy of the recorded images from the premises' surveillance recording system was retained for at least one month;
- failed to ensure that a copy of the recorded images from the premises' surveillance recording system was available upon request for immediate viewing or removal by Victoria Police;
- failed to establish and maintain an approved responsible service of alcohol program register; and
- procured the transfer of a licence by fraud or false representation.
If satisfied that any of the grounds exist, VCAT may cancel the liquor licence, impose a fine of up to $30,000 and/or disqualify the licensee and others from holding a liquor licence or being employed in the liquor industry in Victoria.
O'Brien said the outcome was significant to protect the public and uphold the integrity of the liquor industry.
"Businesses supplying alcohol are on notice that conduct like this will not be tolerated and action will be taken to ensure the protection of those licensees that are doing the right thing," he said.
"The obligations for the supply of liquor are clear under Victorian law. Failure to comply will result in remedial action.
"Breaches of the law may incur financial penalties, disqualification from the industry or other enforcement action.
"Compliance inspectors will continue to conduct inspections throughout the state and will bring to account those that do not comply with the law."
The matter is next listed for hearing in VCAT on August 4, 2011.