Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1556 ..
definition allows the government to modify the definition by regulation where appropriate. The penalty level for the offence of selling liquor unlicensed has been doubled to 100 penalty units to reflect the serious nature of this offence and has been moved to part 1 of the bill, as it is central to the regulation of the industry.
Part 2 outlines the different classes of licence available to prospective licensees and authorises the ways in which a licensee can sell liquor on the licensed premises. The processes involved in applying for, transferring and renewing a licence have been strengthened to include scrutiny of people other than the licensee who will be able to exercise influence in the management of the business. The government proposes to retain the five classes of licences available under existing law. These include an on-licence, which authorises the sale of liquor at bars and nightclubs; a club licence; a general licence, which is used for hotels; a special licence used for special circumstances where another class is not appropriate; and an off-licence, which applies, of course, to bottle shops and supermarkets.
In this context, I would like to flag an important aspect of the new reforms—the information-sharing rule. In the majority of cases where a dispute arises between a licensed premise and its neighbours, the dispute is often about simple misunderstandings about each other’s needs. The current structure of the liquor laws does not encourage a public understanding of what a prospective licensee plans to do with his or her business, nor does it help to inform the government of the community’s needs.
The draft bill prescribes two new ways of information sharing between the government, the prospective licensee or permit holder and the community. The first of these is set out in part 2 and is the method by which the commissioner seeks community input on the application. Part 2 requires the applicant to post a sign at the proposed premises and publish a notice in the Canberra Times telling the public of their intention to operate a licensed venue at the proposed location. This gives the community an opportunity to voice concerns, including any representations about the licensee or any disclosed close associates or influential people. The other component of the information-sharing model is the risk assessment management plan, or RAMP, which I will come to in a moment.
It should also be noted that this process of information sharing will not cease after the applicant has obtained a licence. The commissioner will be able to respond to community feedback, and the licensee will be able to apply to the commissioner for amendment of certain aspects of the licence. These new measures make the regulatory scheme flexible and responsive to the needs of the community and the industry.
The theme of flexibility and responsiveness runs throughout the draft bill. Part 2 of the draft bill allows the commissioner to place conditions on the granting of a licence in addition to the standard conditions prescribed by regulation to meet the community’s needs. An example of a standard condition would be that the licensee must not allow consumption of liquor from glasses exceeding 568 ml, or the old imperial pint. This would still permit individuals to buy jugs of beer to share with their friends but not drink directly from the jug.