'Harm minimisation' key focus of NSW Liquor Act reforms

Tough new measures will apply to vendors who sell or supply alcohol to minors.
Tough new measures will apply to vendors who sell or supply alcohol to minors.

A review of the NSW Liquor Act includes new harm minimisation laws, as well as "new measures to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve regulatory processes", the state government has said in a recent statement.

The Liquor Legislation Amendment (Statutory Review) Act 2014 implements commitments from the NSW government's response to the five-year statutory review of the Liquor Act 2007 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007.

3 Key Stages

Reforms introduced by the Act have been scheduled to commence in three stages.

Stage 1

From 1 December 2014, a new multi-occasion extended trading authorisation is available for regional venues that wish to trade up till 3am on 12 occasions per year.

Stage 2

From 15 December 2014, new harm minimisation controls apply, including tough new measures relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to minors and new powers that enable the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority to suspend or revoke a person's responsible service of alcohol (RSA) certification where they breach their RSA obligations.

Also applying from 15 December: new laws relating to the transfer of a licence on dispossession of the licensee; changes to the 'fit and proper' person test in the Liquor Act; and an expansion of the grounds on which long-term banning orders can be issued by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority.

Stage 3

The remaining provisions in the Amendment Act will commence from 1 March 2015, and will include the following key reforms:

  • An exemption for non-profit organisations from having to obtain a liquor licence for up to six fundraising functions a year, subject to certain requirements;
  • New flexibility for licensed brewers and distillers to make retail sales of their product on their licensed premises without the need to obtain an additional licence, as well as sell directly to the public at industry liquor shows and producers' markets;
  • A streamlined process for transferring a liquor licence at a reduced fee where the proposed licensee holds or has previously held the same type of licence and there is no change of business owner;
  • New powers that enable the Secretary of NSW Trade & Investment to impose conditions on violent venues from 10pm if there is evidence of alcohol-related violence occurring before midnight; and
  • A mandatory requirement for high impact and contentious regulatory decisions to be published to promote transparent decision making under the State's gaming and liquor legislation.

Further guidelines for preventing intoxication

New guidelines to help prevent intoxication on licensed premises will also be issued on 1 March 2015. These guidelines will set out the necessary steps that licensees should take to reduce the risk of intoxication on their premises.

These guidelines will be developed by the Secretary of NSW Trade & Investment in consultation with stakeholders early in 2015.