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Liquor licensing reforms to diminish council powers

Councils’ ability to influence liquor licensing matters will be diminished under the State Government’s proposed liquor licensing reforms.

LGA President Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg said the scaling back of a council’s right to make submissions when a license is advertised would be a disappointing outcome for South Australian communities.

“The Government’s proposed changes would limit the ability for a council to influence liquor licensing in their local communities on matters related to the planning approval process,” Mayor Rosenberg said. 

“However, council members provide the liquor licensing authority with a unique and valued insight into the history of licensed premises within a particular area, and the potential sensitivities surrounding these premises that may not be revealed through a planning process.”

“It’s important to note that when residents have an issue with excessive noise or anti-social behaviour from licensed premises, they’ll often report this to their local council.”

“We’ve written to the Minister for Consumer and Business Services to outline our strong position that the role of councils in the liquor licensing process should not be diminished in attempting to address any overlap between the planning and liquor licensing regimes.”

Mayor Rosenberg said the expansion of small bars beyond the Adelaide CBD to areas where they are suited was another priority for the LGA and its member councils.

“At our Annual General Meeting last October, councils asked us to write to the Government to lobby the Government to deregulate small bar licensing,” Mayor Rosenberg said.

“We wrote to the Minister with an offer to work with the Government on a voluntary pilot of small bars outside of the CBD, which would measure the impact of small bars in an area ahead of a formal review.”

“However, the Minister has declined our offer, indicating it is at odds with the Government’s current position.”

“The Government’s refusal to extend small bars outside of the city is a missed opportunity – both for Adelaide’s suburbs, as well as our State’s regions.”

“The LGA will continue to advocate for a better outcome, which will drive economic development and improve the vibrancy of our metropolitan and regional communities.”

Additional information

Presently, section 76 of the Act provides councils with a right to intervene in proceedings before the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner or the Licensing Court in respect of existing or proposed licensed premises in their area.  The purpose of an intervention is to introduce evidence or make representations on any question before the Commissioner or Court.

Interventions can be made in respect of licensing applications, complaints or any other proceedings commenced under the Act.  The effect of an intervention is that the council becomes a party to the proceedings.  If the concerns of the council are not resolved at a conciliation conference before the Commissioner, the proceedings must be referred to the Licensing Court for determination.

However, under the Government’s Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Bill 2016, councils, together with members of the public, will have now only have a right to make submissions to the Commissioner on advertised license applications

Also, where a licensed premises has a development approval, councils will not be able to make submissions on or object to licensing matters which relate to the approval.  For example, if a development approval does not restrict operating hours, a council may not be able to seek reduced operating hours to be imposed on a subsequent liquor license.

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