The new liquor licence reforms to be introduced by the NSW state government have been welcomed by small bar owners who say that the current system is “confusing, contradictory and unproductive”.
As the cabinet grappled with how to address the current licencing system and even considered risk-based licensing schemes, bar owners condemned the current system which they say is not transparent enough. They believe that it is time for an overhaul of the liquor licensing process.
Meanwhile the Australian Hotels Association has strongly opposed a risk based system. Although welcomed by the Small Bars Association a risk based model would involve violent venues paying more to keep their yearly liquor licence. Small Bars Association President, Martin O’Sullivan welcomed the system because it would require venues to be more responsible,
”If you’re a habitual line crosser, then you need to have a good look at your business,” he said. ”A licence is a privilege, not a right.”
The post on Smh.com.au also detailed the view of alcohol campaigners such as Tony Brown who cited a recent incident involving a bar on Kent Street, the article went on to explain:
An application by the 120-capacity bar to extend its trading hours from midnight to 2am on three days of the week was approved by the City of Sydney council but rejected by the police, who proposed a 1am closing time to better manage anti-social behaviour.
The application was then approved by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing but, after six months of deliberation, was rejected by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
In a sample of 10 consecutive licence-related applications rejected by the authority, nine were endorsed by the office, Mr Brown said.
”This case demonstrates the urgent requirement for a back-to-basics overhaul of the way liquor has been controlled,” he said.
”The current liquor system is fundamentally broken and urgently needs to be replaced with an integrated, independent and efficient system with … genuine community inclusiveness.”
According to the owner of the bar, Daniel McManus improving the system by properly rewarding venues that promote a safe drinking culture could be one solution.
”It would make sense if things such as … how many times the police have had to be called out were the predominant factors in deciding whether or not to grant a late licence to a venue,” he said. ”It would be good if venues were rewarded for consistent good behaviour and practices, and if the safe and responsible nature of certain venues … was acknowledged.”
Meanwhile another association, Raise The Bar, a group of academics, creative entrepreneurs and musicians expressed their dissatisfaction with the system that lacked transparency in their view. This group was also responsible for campaigning for small bar legislation in 2008.