Proposed combined sanctions scheme welcomed

04 May, 2020 by Andy Young

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on the second stage of its 24-hour economy liquor law reforms, which propose a host of changes to kick start Sydney’s night time economy post COVID-19 and beyond.

The key proposals include a new incentives and sanctions system with ongoing fee discounts for licensed venues that maintain a clear record as well as the removal of outdated live music restrictions.

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Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello and Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the proposals will help pubs and venues in the post-COVID-19 economy.

“The proposals will help boost the state’s night time economy by removing outdated laws, simplifying licensing processes and creating a new incentives and sanctions system that rewards licence holders with a clear record,” Dominello said.

“We want pubs, bars and hotels to hit the ground running on the other side, but we are mindful of how rules such as social distancing may need to be accommodated.”

Ayres added: “COVID-19 has hit the hospitality industry hard and fast. We recognise the importance of streamlining the previously complicated legislation to make it easier for industry to get back on their feet as social distancing restrictions ease.

“There is now clearly a light at the end of the tunnel for our hospitality sector and this will give them hope for the future.”

Other proposals include allowing small bars to offer more family friendly services to customers, by permitting minors in certain circumstances, reducing red tape by aligning liquor licensing and planning processes and enhancing same day alcohol delivery regulations.

The draft bill has been welcomed by the Australian Hotels Association NSW, with CEO John Whelan, saying it is a positive step for the industry especially in the current climate.

“This combined sanctions scheme makes sense as it reduces duplication between the current three schemes,” Whelan said.

“For the first time, venues which have a track record of good behaviour will be rewarded through reduced liquor licence fees. This is a good news for the vast majority of operators who run safe venues and comply with the law – and who will now be rewarded through liquor licence fee discounts.

“The new measures will help our members in tough economic times by bringing more certainty to an industry hard hit by COVID-19.”

Whelan added that the proposal to remove licence conditions which prohibit some forms of live entertainment in hotels is particularly pleasing.

“This Bill will get rid of outdated laws which prevent hotels from hosting certain types of live music – for example, one hotel in Sydney’s CBD has a ‘no disco’ condition,” he said.

“This bill will help revitalise our night-time economy as we emerge from this pandemic. We will now go through the Bill in detail before making a comprehensive submission to Government.”