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Sale of Liquor Amendment Bill

What the Bill proposes

  • Fine up to $20,000 or 3 months jail for contravening licence conditions
    (other than offences currently in Act)
  • Conditions of ‘dispensation’ omitted but can be varied or new ones imposed. (C.28)

Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit

  • Supports making breach of licence conditions an offence.
  • Opposes dispensations, points out discrepancies related to clauses on dispensation conditions but supports the greater flexibility apparently suggested.
Additional recommendations:
Recommended amendments to licence criteria and conditions to allow greater responsiveness to particular situations or problems through:
  • considering ‘neighbouring land use’ a general criteria, not just for hours
  • attaching an additional, non-standard condition or agreement to a licence.

Issues related to these recommendations are discussion in ‘Responding to the Community’. The recommendations themselves arise from a ‘Responsive Regulation’ project summarised below.

Breach of licence an offence
The Act lays down particular penal offences that are prosecuted by police through the courts and actions that the Authority may take on particular grounds in response to the way premises are managed. But there is no sanction that directly applies to failure to adhere to the terms of a licence. It is possible to apply to the courts for a restraining order against continuing breaches of licence conditions (S.136), but LLA has never done so.

The Bill proposes to repeal Section 126 and add a new S.165A making it directly an offence under the Act to ‘contravene or fail to comply with any condition. This is supported.

Based on overseas research and regulatory theories from a range of industries, the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit supports flexible use of a range of sanctions. Since 1996 the LLA has demonstrated an increased willingness to apply sanctions when appropriate; these include licence cancellation and short suspensions but has also used areas of discretion to good effect, such as a cutting back hours or a short renewal period.

We believe it would be helpful to licensees and others to have this range of possible actions set out clearly as a separate section in the Act.

Conditions of dispensations
The Bill’s clause 28 on granting dispensations, shaped similarly to sections on the granting a licence, covers criteria but has no section on conditions. However, in the section on cancelling, suspending or varying the dispensation, the variation of conditions is covered, and the possibility of including new conditions for a dispensation is mentioned (28I(1)a(a) and (6)). This appears in fact not to limit conditions in the way that S.14 of the Act does for on-licences generally, and is therefore supported. However, if dispensations do become law, these sub-sections are likely to be tested in the courts.

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