More than 600 licensees, police, council and community representatives from the NSW North Coast attended three forums this week to learn more about the biggest shake-up of the State’s liquor laws in 25 years.

The Liquor Law Forums at Ballina (300 people), Coffs Harbour (160 people) and Port Macquarie (150 people) are among 16 being held around NSW in April and May to explain the new Liquor Act which will be implemented from July 1.

Commissioner of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, Michael Foggo, said police, council and community representatives showed strong interest in expanded powers under the new liquor laws to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and violence.

“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, violence, intoxication and binge drinking,” Mr Foggo said.

“These powers include imposing conditions on licensed venues not meeting their responsibilities, while in problem areas the Director will be able to declare lockouts/curfews to reduce patron migration and anti-social behaviour, and ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions to reduce binge drinking.

“These forums enabled police and council representatives to learn more about the key compliance and enforcement provisions in the new Act and how they might benefit their local community.

“Local police and councils were also pleased to learn that the new Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control 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.”

Mr Foggo said licensees were also keen to learn more about the new administrative based liquor licensing system which will cut cost, red tape and complexity for industry, government and the community.

He said forum attendees were also interested in flexible and practical measures under the new liquor laws to provide patrons with a variety of hospitality, dining and entertainment choices.

“The new liquor laws support and encourage small bars, restaurants, live music venues, wineries, regional breweries and tourism operators,” he said.

“But we certainly delivered a clear message at these forums that with this flexibility comes added responsibility for both licensees and patrons.”