The Liquor Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) provides a welcome set of amendments to the Liquor Control Act 1988 (the Act) for liquor vendors across Western Australia. The Bill was introduced to parliament on 18 August 2015 and is the first of a two-stage process to implement the recommendations of an independent review of the Act which was presented to the Minister in January 2014.
This article summarises some of the more significant amendments proposed by the Bill. These proposed amendments are outlined below.
- The Director of Liquor Licensing can now accept liquor license applications without evidence of planning approval at the time that an application is lodged. A planning approval will still be required, however this will enable the planning and liquor licensing processes to be run simultaneously which has the potential to provide significant time saving benefits.
- The Bill will remove a technical anomaly which prevented vendors from being able to traverse unlicensed areas, such as a footpath or public thoroughfare, when moving between two licensed areas.
- Hotels and nightclubs will be permitted to extend their trading hours on Sundays by two hours, such that hotels will be permitted to trade until midnight and nightclubs until 2 a.m.
- Producers of beer, wine and spirits will benefit from an extensive range of amendments. Certain producers will be permitted to sell their products during extended trading hours and at a wider range of locations in their respective local government district or wine region. The Bill also removes antiquated restrictions prohibiting producers taking sales via telephone or Internet services or from an office not located on the licensed premises.
The Bill also proposes a number of minor technical amendments. Importantly, this includes requirements for licensee’s to retain:
- a responsible service of liquor training register for a period of four years or for the duration of the employment or engagement of a person by the licensee; and
- an incident register which maintains each record for a period of 4 years.
Prior to this proposed amendment, the Act was silent on the duration for which a register had to be maintained.
These amendments are stage one of the government’s implementation of recommendations from the independent review, vendors should expect more changes to liquor legislation in Western Australia over the coming year. The stage two amendments are expected to be introduced into State Parliament by early 2016. These stage two amendments will address matters such as the public interest assessment process, the sale of liquor at restaurants without a meal and Sunday trading for liquor stores in major regional centres.