Page 2202 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015
these reforms are an immediate package of reforms in response to the review of the Liquor Act which I publicly released in May last year. That review report identified a number of opportunities to further reform the ACT’s licensing regime, and the potential changes identified in that report varied in their complexity and their potential impact. As I have indicated previously, it is my intention to facilitate a detailed discussion of the broad range of measures identified in the review report and approach the reform agenda in a staged way.
This bill represents the first stage of that approach. As members would know, I have also released an issues paper to provide the community and stakeholders with the opportunity to consider and provide views on proposals for further reform which are more complex and potentially more contentious and it is my intention to make sure that all stakeholders are able to raise their concerns about these review options and how we respond to them. That issues paper discusses matters such as reduced trading hours, liquor outlet density restrictions, taxation and pricing matters and the regulation of advertising and promotion of alcohol.
Let me turn now to the specifics of the bill before us. As members have discussed this morning, the bill includes amendments to expand the role and membership of the Liquor Advisory Board, and I would concur with the comments of Mr Rattenbury that the real objective here is to broaden the range of stakeholders who are engaged in discussions about liquor regulation, alcohol regulation, and its impacts on our community as a whole because the purpose of the liquor licensing law is to address harm. It is not just about regulation of an industry; it is about regulating and reducing harm.
That has to be our primary focus and the expansions of the membership of the board are designed to reflect that broad intent. So including health representatives, victims of crime representatives, representatives of young people and for the first time representatives of off-licensees is designed to properly broaden the membership of the board. Obviously other representatives of key interests will continue to be represented including other parts of the hospitality industry, the liquor regulator, the Commissioner for Fair Trading and representatives of the police.
I note Mr Hanson’s concerns that it should not be chaired by a public servant. At the moment it is already chaired by a public servant, so there is no change in that respect. It is currently chaired by a person who is a public servant and it will continue to be chaired by a person who is a public servant. I think it is to the benefit of the operation of that advisory body that it is chaired by someone with a level of seniority—further seniority than the Commissioner for Fair Trading has when it comes to advising government—because the matters that are raised at the Liquor Advisory Board in practice in the past have not just been about technical regulatory matters, they have been about broader liquor policy. It has not been within the capacity or the remit of the Commissioner for Fair Trading to get into those discussions about legal policy about liquor policy matters. His remit is a narrow one around technical regulation of the act itself.
So by appointing the director-general the government is saying that the purpose of this forum is in part to have discussions and give advice to government on policy issues,