Licensees, police, councils and community members across the NSW North Coast will learn more about the biggest shake-up of the State’s liquor laws in 25 years at free public forums next week.

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is holding the forums at:

  • Ballina RSL Club, 22 April, 11am to 1pm
  • Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club, 23 April, 11am to 1pm
  • Port Macquarie Panthers, 24 April, 11am to 1pm.

They are part of 16 Liquor Law Forums being staged around NSW in April and May to explain the new Liquor Act which will be implemented from July 1.

Speakers include the Commissioner of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, Michael Foggo; the Director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner; and the Chief Executive of the new Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority, Brian Farrell.

The forums will provide an overview of the new liquor laws, information about the new Authority and an explanation of the new compliance regime.

“The new liquor laws will increase protection for local communities from alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and violence, provide flexibility for licensees and give consumers a variety of hospitality, dining and entertainment choices,” Mr Foggo said.

“The new Liquor Act removes liquor licensing from the courts and creates an administrative based system to reduce cost, complexity and red tape, and increase access for local residents and councils.”

The Director of Liquor and Gaming will have expanded powers under the new liquor laws to deal with irresponsible licensees and unruly patrons to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, intoxication and binge drinking.

“I will be able to impose conditions on licensed venues not meeting their responsibilities. In problem areas I will be able to declare lockouts/curfews to reduce patron migration and anti-social behaviour, and ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions,” Mr Gardner said.

The new Authority’s first consideration when assessing an application for a new licensed venue or extended trading hours will be the impact on the local community.

“The new Community Impact Statement requires applicants to consult with the local community about the potential impact of their application before they even lodge it with the Authority,” Mr Farrell said.

“This ensures that residents and councils have a greater say in liquor licensing decisions.

“If the overall social impact is detrimental to the wellbeing of the local community then the application cannot be approved.

“Health, police and crime data will also be taken into account in assessing applications.”

Anyone wanting to attend a forum must register online at www.olgr.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 9995 0650.

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE NEW LIQUOR LAWS:

  • The NSW Licensing Court and the Liquor Administration Board will be abolished.
  • A new Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority will deal with applications for liquor licences and extended trading hours, as well as disciplinary matters against licensed venues.
  • The Director of Liquor and Gaming will deal with disturbance complaints against licensed venues, impose conditions on liquor licences, declare lockouts/curfews, and ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions in individual licensed venues in problem areas.
  • Maximum fines for venue operators and their staff repeatedly caught supplying alcohol to minors and intoxicated patrons will rise to $11,000 and/or 12 months in jail (up from $5500).
  • New offences to stop drunk, violent or quarrelsome patrons from attempting to re-enter a licensed venue or remaining in the vicinity once they have been ejected or refused entry. On-the-spot fines of $550 will apply to each offence.
  • Liquor Accords will be able to apply to the new Authority to ban troublemakers from multiple licensed venues for up to six months.
  • Individuals with alcohol problems will be able to self-exclude from licensed venues.
  • Communities suffering from chronic alcohol abuse will be able to be declared restricted areas with greater controls on the sale and supply of alcohol.
  • Licence categories will be simplified with special arrangements to support and encourage small bars, live music venues, wineries, regional breweries and tourism operators.
  • Restaurants will be able to serve liquor without a meal by making a simple application and paying a small fee.