The NSW Liquor & Gaming Authority has published its final decision on the review of liquor license conditions of 14 late night trading hotels located in Newcastle CBD. The Authority has confirmed minimal changes and no alterations to the current lock out laws, following an independent review and submissions from licensees.
After the Authority's initial response to the review was published and communicated to stakeholders in April 2018, licensees had, under law, a period of 21 days to respond.
The Authority has also decided to make no changes to:
- the existing lockout and closing hours,
- the conditions in respect of:
- the cessation of liquor supply 30 minutes before closing, and
- the prohibition on the stockpiling of drinks.
The minor changes that are to be implemented include no longer requiring the use of a common radio network, and plans of management to be reviewed annually rather than quarterly.
Chair of the Authority Philip Crawford announced: "The case for maintaining existing patron lockout restrictions in the 14 Newcastle venues, and for maintaining requirements for the sale or supply of liquor to cease 30 minutes before closing, was strong."
Earlier this year, Mr Jonathan Horton QC was requested by the Authority to conduct a review of conditions imposed by the former NSW Liquor Administration Board in 2008 and the impact this has had on reducing alcohol-related violence. Following this request, Mr Horton released the Horton Report, advising the Authority on the current liquor licence conditions.
Why was the Horton Report created?
Liquor licence conditions were imposed in Newcastle CBD in 2008 following community, police and medical practitioner concerns about late night alcohol-related violence. Since then, there have been many demographic, development and regulatory changes in the area.
Mr Horton stated that although the 2008 liquor conditions were reliable in preventing alcohol-related violence at that time, some of these conditions have now become out-dated.
"Newcastle is no longer in need of a 'solution': what is required is a licensing regime which prevents a return to past problems and allows for the City to develop in a balanced way and in accordance with community expectations, needs and aspirations," wrote Mr Horton.
What conditions were considered?
As a result of the report and under the Liquor Act 2007, the Authority has acted on Mr Horton's recommendations.
Importantly, Mr Horton recommended trading hours remain the same as the existing hours as they "have proved successful in reducing alcohol-related violence to an acceptable level, since those hours were set". Horton went on to state, "to increase the hours would, in all likelihood, lead to greater violence".
Mr Horton's recommendations also included changing the conditions surrounding notification of licence conditions to staff, as well as a new requirement for each licensee to update their Plans of Management and perform an annual review of these in consultation with NSW Police.
After 10pm, Mr Horton recommended "drinks commonly known as shots, shooters, slammers or bombs or any other drinks that are designed to be consumed rapidly" are prohibited.
Who was involved?
Mr Horton conducted a process of public consultation between November 2017 and February 2018, where he received over 90 written submissions from a variety of stakeholders. This included NSW Police, public health bodies, academics, licensed businesses, industry bodies, private individuals and special interest groups.
Following the Authority's decision the licensees were provided with a period of 21 days to respond.
Mr Crawford commented: "We would like to express our gratitude to those members of the community who provided the written and oral submissions that informed the Horton Report."
The Horton report can be read in full here.
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