Newcastle City Council Calls For Revised Liquor Licensing Laws

San Cisco playing at Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle. Image Credit: The Herald
Scarlett Di Maio
| January 31, 2018

Newcastle City Council has made 17 licensing recommendations to the NSW Government which were unanimously endorsed by councillors last week.

While some of the recommendations relate to existing conditions, others call for new research into the effectiveness of lock-out laws, which were introduced in the Newcastle CBD almost a decade ago.

The submission was developed by a Council team including NCC Smart City Coordinator Dr Nathaniel Bavinton, who has a PhD in urban sociology, with a focus on the night-time economy of Newcastle.

Currently, licensed venues in Newcastle have varying lock-out times of 1.00am – 1.30am and shutdown times of 3.00am – 3.30am.The Council’s submission still supports a consistent 1.30am lock-out and 3.30am shutdown for all premises, but recommends a new exception for venues designated as low-impact. Low-impact venues would be defined as those with a strong, consistent focus on noise management and responsible service of alcohol, and a proven track record on alcohol-related and liquor licensing incidents.

The submission also proposes to include additional classifications for premises that have achieved and maintained “low impact” status.

“It’s Council’s view that venues who consistently demonstrate outstanding responsible service of alcohol should be allowed to trade longer than those that occasionally don’t.” Dr Bavinton said.

Other recommendations outlined in the submission include:

* Requiring licensed venues to prepare more robust plans of management and to be more closely scrutinised by Liquor & Gaming NSW. The plans of management would be tied to annual compliance audits.

* Requiring licensed venues to retain an employee whose sole function is to supervise responsible service of alcohol throughout the premises.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle had changed significantly since 2008.

“Our night-time economy is now worth $1.4 billion a year and employs more than 12,000 people,” Councillor Nelmes said.

“We need laws that reflect the evolution of that night-time economy, which has been led by strong growth in smaller night-time venues attracting a more sophisticated, responsible crowd.

“This is about achieving a balance between controlling alcohol-related incidents and stimulating the kind of city life after-dark that attracts broader participation and investment in Newcastle.”

Lock-out laws have a negative impact on the Australian music industry, leading to significant declines in attendances, loss of revenues, reduced music industry jobs and fewer public entertainment options, as we have previously explored.

Read Newcastle City Council’s full statement here.

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