Pledge to reform WA liquor act welcomed

15 February, 2021 by Andy Young

The WA Labor Party and Premier Mark McGowan have pledged to reform the state’s liquor laws if re-elected in the state election next month.

The party has already amended large parts of the Liquor Control Act and  allowed for the introduction of small bars, enabled restaurants to serve alcohol without a meal, replaced the Liquor Licensing Court with the Liquor Commission, introduced the ‘public interest’ test for liquor licences and allowed metropolitan liquor stores to trade on Sundays.

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A re-elected McGowan Government has pledged to undertake consultation with the hospitality industry and other stakeholders to inform further amendments to the Liquor Control Act.

It listed a range of potential improvements that will be considered, including a simpler licensing system. This could include a reduction in the number of liquor licence categories from the current 13 to reflect changing business models and community expectations, as well as a more rapid and cheaper approvals process.

Premier Mark McGowan said: “It is hard to believe just how far WA’s hospitality sector has come since the reforms of 2006.

“Those measures transformed our entire drinking and dining culture to the point that Western Australia now boasts many of the country’s best bars and restaurants.

“Our additional measures under my Government have helped make life easier for hospitality venues and tourism operators, with a number of additional common sense reforms to grow the sector and create jobs.

“If re-elected we will embark on the next phase of reform, bringing industry and other stakeholders on board to determine what the next steps are for WA’s hospitality sector.”

The pledge has been widely welcomed, with Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters welcoming the proposed reforms including a simplification of the liquor licensing application process as well as an expedited and cheaper approvals process.

“We welcome today’s election commitment from WA Labor to improve the state’s liquor licensing system ensuring that the licence application process is a simple and straight-forward process, with minimal costs borne by the licensee,” Waters said.

“Whilst we await further detail concerning this policy, we welcome this collaborative approach towards reducing the red tape and cost burden associated with the state’s liquor licensing system, helping to ensure that all liquor retailers continue to have the freedom to retail responsibly.”

The AHA WA also welcomed the pledge, CEO Bradley Woods said: “The AHA welcomes the Labor Party’s commitment to pursue further sensible reform and extensive consultation of WA’s liquor laws.”

“Reforms need to first be focused on the existing licensed hospitality industry and relieving it from the burden of bureaucratic administration to allow people to focus on their businesses.”

“Whatever the outcome of the election the AHA will work with the WA State Government on implementing changes that assist job creation, enhance the experience of patrons and improves the vibrancy of WA’s hospitality industry.”