VENUE owners in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley say plans to loosen liquor licensing requirements for small clubs, restaurants and cafes will just increase problems in the entertainment precinct.

Valley Liquor Accord chair Nick Braban has told a parliamentary inquiry into new liquor licensing changes that "so called" low-risk establishments should not be exempt from the requirement to have managers trained in the responsible service of alcohol on site. He said the Valley already had to deal with issues relating to patrons "pre-loading" on alcohol at restaurants and cafes before making their way into the nightspot once heavily intoxicated.

Plan to cut pub, club trading hours to 3am, red tape cup so tourism operators don't need liquor licence "All licensees across the state should serve alcohol to the same standards, and be held accountable to the same standards," Mr. Braban wrote in a submission to the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee reviewing the laws. "Our membership has to deal with the outcome of poorly managed restaurants and cafes - namely BYO venues - where customers are allowed to consume large amounts of alcohol by poorly trained staff. These customers then attempt entry into venues in the Valley precinct, and when refused entry, add to issues in the public space which reflects poorly on the highly regulated and well-managed venues of our membership."

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie last month introduced another tranche of changes to liquor licensing laws including removing the requirement for "low-risk" restaurants, cafes and small community clubs to have approved managers on site if they do not trade past midnight. Mr. Bleijie told State Parliament the changes were about reducing red tape for business. Multiple community clubs have entered submissions supporting the changes. But Mr. Braban said the Valley Liquor Accord did not believe it was too much to ask smaller venues to ensure they have a manager trained in the responsible service of alcohol on site. "It is not in our opinion onerous for people who have the privilege of a liquor licence to attend a two-day course and apply for a license. We applaud the government's moves to reduce the administrative burden on businesses but it's (ensured approved managers are on site) not a large burden , he said.

Security Providers Association of Australia Limited Queensland director Garry Oliver said his organisation also opposed the change. "The result of such a misconceived amendment would result in approximately half of all managers working within licensed premises in Queensland, not being required to complete the Licensee Training Course which is presently required to be successfully completed before an Approved Managers license can be granted," Mr. Oliver wrote in a submission to the committee, "SPAAL must raise its concerns that such lack of training will adversely impact on the liquor industry in Queensland, in clear violation of the objective of the Liquor Act 1992 to minimise the harmful effects of alcohol abuse and misuse." He said low-risk venues were also becoming the venue of choice for bikies as a result of the government's bikie crackdown. "Over the past few weeks the Queensland Government has passed legislation placing liquor licensees in the forefront of the management of criminal organisations, imposing restrictions of what clothes and accessories such groups can wear within a licensed premise."Mr Oliver wrote.

"It has been clearly demonstrated by our members that strict legislation and police action has displaced these group from the traditional late night trading venues, to venues that the Liquor Act 1992 currently considers as 'low risk'." The committee is due to report back to Parliament on the changes by November 14.

Justin McGurgan
Source : 
The Australian by Sarah Vogler 6/11/13