WA’s new liquor laws set to begin

16 August, 2018 by Andy Young

New liquor licensing laws introduced by Western Australia’s McGowan Labor Government come into effect this weekend, with the Government saying they will usher in “significant changes to the State’s hospitality landscape”.

The Liquor Control Amendment Bill 2018 aims to build upon the legislation that saw the growth of Perth’s small bar scene and create jobs as well as support local businesses.

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WA’s Premier, Mark McGowan, said: “The new changes coming into effect this weekend strike the right balance between community health and safety while encouraging a more tourism-friendly hospitality culture.

“My Government’s support for the hospitality industry is evident with more than 100 new licensed venues opening this year alone.

“Tourism is a key economic driver for WA and plays a vital role in our plan to diversify the State’s economy and create new jobs.”

The Government said that it believes the new legislation will also bring in a new wave of activity in WA’s hospitality industry as the regulatory burden is reduced on licensees and laws are liberalised to give the state’s consumers and visitors greater choice.

Among the suite of changes, patrons will be able to take home partially-consumed wine from a small bar or tavern if they choose to finish it later, which currently only applies to restaurants.

The Bill also includes an amendment to streamline licensing arrangements for existing, established, local licensees to cater at temporary and pop-up bars at short-term events such as micro-festivals.

Other amendments to the legislation coming into effect include:

  • Restaurants with the capacity for 120 people or less will no longer need to apply for a separate permit to serve liquor without a meal – they will simply ‘opt in’ when they first apply for their licence;
  • Ongoing hours Extended Trading Permits (ETPs) will be valid for up to 10 years – increased from five years, cutting burden and cost for licensees;
  • Spirit producers will be able to trade in the same manner as wine and beer producers – authorising the sale of liquor for consumption on and off the licensed premises;
  • Clubs in WA will be allowed to accept genuine tourists/visitors – fees will apply to visitors; and
  • Discretion by the licensing authority to consider low-risk applications without having regard to the public interest assessment requirements.

Australian Hotels Association (WA) CEO Bradley Woods welcomed the new laws, telling TheShout: “The recent passage of the Liquor Control Act Amendment Bill represents the most substantial modernisation of the state’s liquor laws in a decade.

“It is critical that the laws governing liquor licensing, consumption and trade on licensed premises are in line with community expectations, help facilitate businesses to grow and do not unnecessarily restrict patrons or licensees. The reforms which commence on Saturday deliver on these objectives.

“The AHA(WA) is proud to have played an important role on behalf of our members in lobbying Government on the need for change and we are pleased to have achieved the overwhelming majority of what we set out to accomplish.

“WA’s hospitality scene has grown, evolved and matured remarkably in recent years and it was important that the state’s liquor laws were reformed to assist, not hinder, an industry so important to Western Australia.”

WA’s Tourism and Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia added: “The passing of this legislation represents the most significant liquor reforms for the State in over a decade, and delivers on our Government’s plan for jobs by supporting opportunities for business growth and driving visitation to our wonderful State.

“A tremendous amount of work and consultation has gone into the development of this important legislation, and the result is a framework which all Western Australians can be proud of.

“It is time to modernise the hospitality and tourism industries, and these laws strike a good balance between the responsible consumption of liquor together with the tourism and employment benefits of a dynamic and prosperous hospitality industry.”