Key Changes in Liquor Laws a Silver Lining for Small Businesses

Recent changes to the NSW liquor legislation will affect a range businesses, including those trading takeaway alcohol and applying for liquor licences, as well as live entertainment venues in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross.

In December 2016, Liquor and Gaming NSW implemented a number of key recommendations from the Independent Liquor Law Review by former High Court judge the Hon Ian Callinan AC QC. These legislative amendments are aimed at relaxing the restrictions on ‘low-risk’ entertainment venues and small bars in a bid to revive Sydney’s night-time economy. The key changes are as follows:


Extended Hours for Live Entertainment Venues and Takeaway Alcohol Traders


In an attempt to restore the “vibrancy” of Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross, the government has extended the lockouts at live entertainment venues from 1.30am to 2.00am, and extended last drinks from 3am to 3.30am. Additionally, the sale of takeaway alcohol has been extended from 10pm to 11pm. The relaxation of these laws will be trialled for 2 years.

Live entertainment will be restrictively defined to encompass events in which entertainers or live performers are engaged to perform music or live shows, including after midnight. That would include DJs mixing pre-recorded music.

The government has not followed the recommendation to push back home delivery alcohol services from 11pm to 12am.


Interim Restaurant Authorisation

Restaurant or café owners applying for an on-premises liquor licence are now eligible to obtain an interim restaurant authorisation. This provisional approval system enables low-risk venues to begin liquor trading as soon as they lodge an application, curtailing the 4-5 month wait period for the application to be accepted.


Free Small Bar Licence Conversion and Staff Drinks

Licensees holding either an on-premises or hotel general bar licence can now apply to convert their licence to a small bar licence at no cost for the next 12 months. The benefit of a small bar licence is that smalls bars are exempt from the liquor licence freeze and now have an increased patron capacity from 60 to 100.


Liquor licence freeze in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD Precincts

Lastly, the government is proposing to modify the liquor licence freeze, which currently prevents the granting of new liquor licences for high impact venues such as hotels, clubs and bottle shops. We will keep an eye on these developments and publish again when an announcement is made.


Peter English


(02) 9318 6411


Nicole Phillips