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New liquor licensing laws – changes from 18 December 2017 - Circular 51.4

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Date 15 December 2017
Contact Lea Bacon
Response Required No
Summary The first stage of the Stage Government’s liquor licensing reforms will commence on 18 December 2017. This Circular provides further details of changes relevant to councils.

Councils will be aware that following a review of the state’s liquor laws, to which the Local Government Association and member councils provided submissions, the final legislation passed Parliament in November 2017.

The Government is implementing reforms in a staged process. The first stage of changes will commence on 18 December 2017.

A brochure that outlines the December changes is available on the Consumer and Business Services website.

Issues that will be of particular interest to councils

Council consents

Businesses will still need to abide by the conditions of their development approval and other council consents, which may include certain restrictions on trading and entertainment. When making a liquor licence application, the applicant will need to confirm that they have all the relevant council consents before their liquor licence is approved.

Notice of liquor licence applications

Under the new laws, people who submit a liquor licence application will no longer be automatically required to notify council and neighbours of their application. These changes aim to reduce administrative burden for licence holders, and streamline the application process.

Members of the public will be informed of applications by a notice on the premises or land. In addition, notices of application will be published on the CBS website.

Applicants can choose to provide council with copy of their application, where planning approvals aren’t required. The Commissioner can also require an applicant to do so in appropriate cases.

To help manage this change, there will be a 6-month transition period, where people who apply for a liquor licence that requires advertising will still need to notify council.

All licence applications that require advertising will be published on the Consumer and Business Services website, allowing you to track applications within your council boundary. This reduces the steps that businesses need to take, and the flow of paperwork between government offices, while continuing to make relevant information available to councils.

It is suggested that Councils introduce a process to regularly check the CBS website.

Trading hour changes

Licensed businesses within your boundaries will now be allowed to sell liquor on Christmas Day, the day after Christmas Day, Good Friday, the day after Good Friday and New Year’s Eve according to the trading hours that apply to that day of the week. They will also be able to trade until 2am on New Year’s Day without applying for extended trading hours.

In addition, holders of hotel, club and special circumstances licences will have more flexible trading hours on Sunday. Details of these hours are in the attached brochure.

Businesses still need to abide by the Late Night Trading Code of Practice when trading after 12am. This includes taking measures to minimise alcohol related anti-social behaviour near licensed venues, such as queue management.

Removal of entertainment consent

Businesses will no longer require special consent to host a range of entertainment, including live music. Entertainment consent will still be required for prescribed items, such as adult entertainment. 

All licensed premises are required to comply with the General Code of Practice, and need to take reasonable steps to prevent undue noise and disturbance to people who live or work in the area when hosting entertainment. This also applies to taking steps to manage the conduct of people who are going to and from the venue.

Businesses will still need to abide by the conditions of their development approval and other council consents.

Raising complaints

If there are ongoing problems with noise, council and local residents can make a complaint to the Commissioner.  In order to resolve the matter, which may occur through conciliation or a hearing, extra conditions may be added to the licence.

Increased regulation of supply to minors

There will be stronger penalties for people who illegally supply alcohol to anyone under 18.

Councils may like to share and promote the following communication materials.

Future changes

The remaining reforms will be implemented in future stages.

The most significant change will be to enact that a Council only has the right to make a written submission in respect of a licensing application if it is done through the involvement of a combined assessment panel established under the Planning Development and Infrastructure act 2016. The intention of this change is to ensure that development approval conditions are tied to planning consents rather than the liquor licence.

The LGA will provide further information as soon as it becomes available from the Attorney General’s Department.

Updates will be provided on the Consumer and Business Services website.

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