Mr Souris said the Government will consider the report’s 91 recommendations which address such matters as access to the liquor licensing system for local communities; promoting efficient, transparent, effective and fair decision making and strengthening regulatory tools to reduce alcohol-related harm.
“As there are many legislative proposals involved across portfolios, the Government’s response to the report will be announced in the first half of 2014,” Mr Souris said.
He said the review of the Liquor Act 2007 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 confirmed that while alcohol-related violence is trending down, there are a range of areas where improvements may be considered.
“The Government will consider all the recommendations in the report and consult further in relation to the practicality of how they might work and whether they can be improved,” Mr Souris said.
“We agree that our liquor laws need to facilitate access to the liquor and gaming regulatory systems by stakeholders and promote efficiency, transparency, effectiveness and fairness in decision making.
“The liquor laws introduced in 2008 were the biggest overhaul of the State’s liquor licensing system in more than a quarter of a century.
“The independent review by Michael Foggo, a former Commissioner of the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing, is the first time they have been comprehensively assessed to ensure they remain effective and meet community expectations.
“The review involved widespread consultation including, the release of an explanatory paper, information sessions with key stakeholders and a call for public comment, resulting in 106 submissions from the community, government agencies, local councils, industry and the health sector.”
Recommendations of the report include:
- Creation of a ‘one-stop-shop’ website for the community, local councils and industry to access information and assistance and initiate action on liquor licence applications and alcohol related problems caused by licensed venues (recommendations 3 and 4);
- Annual risk-based liquor licence fees for NSW licensed venues (recommendation 29);
- A coordinated planning and liquor licensing system to remove duplication and facilitate community input in considering social impact and local neighbourhood issues associated with liquor licence applications (recommendations 70 to 73);
- Local councils to be able to make submissions to the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority to change an existing licensed venue’s trading hours to address community issues;
- Incorporation of venue capacity limits set by local councils into liquor licence conditions (recommendation 60);
- Expanding the membership of local liquor accords to include non-licensed late night businesses in close proximity to licensed venues as well as providers of security services (recommendation 66);
- An independent alcohol-related research program in NSW to inform future policy and regulatory activities in relation to issues such as late night liquor trading (recommendation 80);
- Publishing of reasons for decisions for hotel, bottle shop, nightclub and extended trading applications as well as regulatory and enforcement actions (recommendations 5, 6, 7 and 79);
- Strengthened mandatory training for licensees of high risk venues and tailored responsible service of alcohol training for other industry workers (recommendations 16, 17, 18 and 19);
- Creation of a statutory position of Director of Licensing to increase efficiency and reduce complexity for low risk liquor applications (recommendations 10 to 12).
Mr Souris said the report notes significant reductions in alcohol-related harm.
“The report states that between 2008 and 2012 there has been significant reductions in violent incidents on licensed premises (-28%); alcohol-related assaults on police (-35%); alcohol-related domestic assaults (-12%); alcohol-related non-domestic assaults (-28%); and hospital emergency department attendance rates for acute alcohol problems (-9%).
“I would like to thank everyone who made submissions for their contributions to this review.”