Liquor regulation reforms in NSW- what you need to know

Last month the NSW Parliament passed the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) which puts in place a number of reforms to the NSW Liquor Act 2007 and Liquor Regulations 2008 with the objective of reducing alcohol related incidents in the Sydney CBD.

We’ve summarised some of the key changes which you need to know as a licensee or proposed licensee in this area.

1.       No more online RSA training

Make sure your proposed staff hold the required documentation. If they don’t have the documentation, it’s not as easy as telling them to enrol in an online course. Students will now have to attend classroom training until the suspension of online training courses is lifted. There is currently no set date as to when this will occur, the suspension will continue until the online certification process is improved.

2.       Take away sales prohibited after 10:00pm from 24 February 2014

This is state-wide, and applies to all take-away/delivery businesses. The curfew applies to every night of the week.

3.       Introduction of Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct as of 24 February 2014

The Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (the Precinct) has been created to cover the area from the Rocks, to parts of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills– there is a map available. Within the Precinct (excluding Small Bars, restaurants and tourism accommodation establishments):

(a)    There will be a lock out of new patrons to licensed premises from 1:30am- 5:00pm.

(b)   There will be a liquor sales cessation period from 3am, where venue operators cannot supply alcohol after this time. Venues may remain open if authorised to, but will not be able to serve alcohol.

(c)    There will be a freeze on the grant of new liquor licence applications in operation for two years, which applies to all types of licences with the exception of small bar licences, and on-premises licences (not relating to entertainment venues).

(d)   The police will be able to issue 48 hour temporary banning orders to people who refuse to comply with move-on directions or have been refused entry to licensed premises, preventing entry to all licensed premises in the Sydney Entertainment Precinct with the exception of ‘low risk’ restaurants.  Later this year, police will be able to seek long term banning orders for 12 months, restricting access to ‘high risk’ venues within the Precinct.

(e)   The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) will have the power to revoke RSA competency cards of persons employed within the Precinct for up to 12 months, if it is satisfied that those persons have contravened RSA obligations. Heavy penalties will apply to persons who try to work while their competency cards are suspended.

(f)     Later this year, additional licence conditions will be imposed on venues within the Precinct, once consultation has taken place.

As a licensee of a venue within the Precinct, it is important that you are aware of the changes to your obligations to ensure that you comply with the new regulations. Furthermore, licensees state-wide authorised to supply liquor for consumption off the premises, must ensure that they cease all sales after 10:00pm as of 24 February 2014.

We will provide more commentary on the laws as they come into force, but in the meantime, please contact us if you require advice.

Anthea Eills

*Information taken from OLGR Factsheet ‘2014 reforms for liquor regulation in NSW’, February 2014 and is accurate as at February 2014.