Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 1940 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Despite the strengthening of the Liquor Act over the last 10 years to address the incidence of underage drinking, offences relating to underage drinking continue to be detected in association with licensed premises. These amendments are targeted at this continuing problem. Licensees are best placed to prevent underage persons from participating in illegal activities on licensed premises and while the proposed amendments are aimed at ensuring greater surveillance by licensees they will also assist licensees to deal with this issue.
The determination of occupancy loadings is another issue addressed in the Bill. The Bill enables the Registrar, in determining indoor occupancy loadings, to take into account other issues such as the adequacy of toilet facilities in addition to the recommendations of the Fire Commissioner. The Act currently permits the Registrar to consider issues such as toilet facilities when determining outdoor occupancy loadings and I believe the same power is relevant in determining indoor occupancy loadings.
The Bill also repeals the Business Franchise (Liquor) Act 1993 and introduces an annual renewal fee for liquor licences in the Liquor Act 1975. Following the High Court decision which led to the cessation of the collection of Business Franchise Fees the only fee collected under the Business Franchise (Liquor) Act is the quarterly renewal fee. It is proposed to replace that fee with a single yearly fee for the renewal of a licence.
Collecting the fee under the Liquor Act and applying the fee on a yearly basis instead of a quarterly basis will streamline the process for licensees. Where a licensee fails to renew the licence, the licence will be automatically suspended and if the renewal fee is not paid within a further month then the licence expires.
The Bill also proposes a number of other minor and technical amendments.
There are a number of consequential amendments to the Liquor Act 1975 as a result of the repeal of the Business Franchise (Liquor) Act 1993.
The Liquor Licensing Board's power to reprimand a licensee have been placed before the power to issue directions. Previously the power to reprimand was co-located with the powers of suspension. The order of powers of reprimand, direction, suspension and cancellation now better reflects the relative consequences of the disciplinary powers of the Board.
The various forms in the Act have been changed to approved forms rather than being prescribed in the Liquor Regulations. Amendments to the Act and the Liquor Regulations reflect this change.