LIQUOR AMENDMENT BILL
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA
(Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer) [5.13 p.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard
The bill before the House will make a number of important amendments to the New South Wales Liquor Act in the lead-up to the millennium celebrations at the end of this year. It also contains other amendments which respond to concerns that have been raised with the Government in recent times, and introduces some important and positive changes to liquor licensing in New South Wales. The bill contains six groups of amendments. First, the bill will provide licensed venues in New South Wales with some additional hours of trading for the upcoming New Year’s Eve and millennium celebrations.
Second, the bill will introduce a new category of "community liquor licence" so that small rural communities throughout the State that have been disadvantaged in recent years by hotel closures can continue to have ready access to a local and convenient liquor and hospitality service. Third, the bill will introduce some new flexibility in the Liquor Act for restaurants and nightclubs, including allowing restaurants with less than 50 seats to apply for a liquor licence. Fourth, the bill will introduce additional community safeguards concerning the sale of takeaway liquor by convenience stores and petrol stations.
Fifth, the bill will make further provision in the Liquor Act for offences and penalties concerning proof-of-age cards, including the fraudulent manufacture, tampering, and use of proof-of-age cards. Sixth, the bill contains a number of miscellaneous and other machinery amendments to improve various aspects of the administration and application of the Liquor Act. I will describe each of the six major groups of amendments in turn. It is well known that the community celebrations that will welcome in the year 2000 are expected to be unprecedented around the world in terms of the numbers of people celebrating at parties and functions in private homes, at licensed venues, and so on.
It is also expected that the celebrations will not be confined to New Year’s Eve - on the Friday night of 31 December - but will continue throughout the first three days of 2000 on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The amendments in this bill will provide the majority of licensed premises in New South Wales with additional flexibility in their trading hours for this period. They will then have a reasonable chance to meet the additional public demand for food and liquor services.
The liquor licence categories included in this automatic extension of hours are the mainstream premises that provide liquor and hospitality services to the general public. This includes hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. These groups of premises, which number about 5,000 venues in total, plus a small number of the more specialised venues, will be permitted to automatically trade the special one-off millennium celebrations trading hours described in the bill. That is, they will be permitted to trade those extended hours automatically without each venue being required to make a separate application to the Licensing Court.
The special millennium trading hours will apply from the start of normal trading on Friday 31 December through the Saturday and Sunday and to the end of normal trading on Monday 3 January 2000. However, this automatic extension will not apply for a full 24 hours each day. All venues taking advantage of this extension will be required to close for at least one hour on each of the three mornings between 3.00 a.m. and 7.00 a.m. This will provide a break for venues and patrons. I stress that to trade the automatic extended hours venues will be subject to a number of requirements specified in the bill. These sensible limitations will ensure the premises and their patrons are managed in an orderly way.
For example, venues will be required to notify local police of the hours they will be trading over the period. As well, police must be advised about the arrangements they will have in place to ensure the safe conduct of their premises, along with measures to prevent undue disturbance to the quiet and good order of their neighbourhood. There will also be other special requirements, such as: the licensee must have completed an approved Responsible Serving of Alcohol [RSA] Course, and RSA practices must be in place at all times; appropriate food must be available to patrons at all times that liquor is sold or supplied on the premises; and the licensee must display the venue’s opening and closing times on the premises for the information of the public.
It is important that the proposed extended trading will not override any requirements of local government, or conditions imposed on individual licences by the Licensing Court or the Liquor Administration Board. For example, if a venue operates with limited hours because of noise disturbance complaints, those hours and any other conditions resulting from the complaint will continue to apply. One aim of the amendments is to ease the pressure of community demand for access to liquor and hospitality services during this celebration period, and to ensure that celebrations on licensed venues are as orderly as possible.
In this regard, the bill recognises the special challenges for police in carrying out their duties over the New Year period. Police will therefore have some additional powers over and above their normal powers to ensure law and order. For example, police will be able to give on-the-spot directions to licensees and managers of venues - where that is considered necessary to minimise alcohol-related harm - and those directions will need to be followed immediately. Refusing to follow the directions of the police will constitute a breach of the licence, and could result in serious disciplinary action.
The second group of amendments in the bill will introduce a new form of liquor licence to be known as a community liquor licence. In bringing this amendment forward, the Government is acknowledging the needs of our small rural communities - in particular those communities that have been disadvantaged through the loss of their local hotel, either through closure of the hotel or removal of the hotel licence to another area. These small communities have been left not only without the liquor services normally provided by a hotel, but without the other facilities that a local hotel provides in terms of being a meeting place, and a much-valued social and community asset.
Hotel closures are receiving particular attention in some areas of New South Wales, specifically where hotel licences have been sold for "removal" to larger regional centres or metropolitan areas to take advantage of hotel gaming concessions. I mention just some of the small rural areas that have been brought to the Government’s notice: Bethungra, Milbrulong, Mullengandra, Brocklesby, Pleasant Hills, Torrington, Tooma, Coreen, Rankin Springs, Lowesdale, and Rennie. The amendments will enable these small rural communities, which have lost their local hotel, to obtain a community liquor licence.
Some of the features of the new licence are: the licence will be granted by the Licensing Court to a person who will operate it on behalf of a non-profit community organisation and where there is community support for the licence; the licence can only be granted in areas of the State outside of metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong - and if the court is satisfied there is no hotel in the neighbourhood or its vicinity - due either to a hotel ceasing to operate, or to the removal of a hotel licence; in granting a licence, the court must be satisfied that there is no venue in the neighbourhood or its vicinity that provides hotel-like facilities; community liquor licences will only be able to be removed within the same neighbourhood; the premises and facilities must be suitable for the sale of liquor; gaming machines will not be permitted; both on and off sales of liquor will be permitted; and importantly, the fee for the grant of a licence will be $500.
The community liquor licence will also be subject to the normal range of Liquor Act obligations and provisions that apply to other licences in New South Wales, such as the responsible service of liquor, preventing the sale or supply of liquor to minors, disciplinary and disturbance complaints, and so on. As well, the police, the Director of Liquor and Gaming, and local councils will have their normal roles and functions for these licences. This new category of licence is an innovation for liquor licensing. And it is an opportunity to address a very real problem faced by small rural communities.
The third group of amendments concerns restaurants and nightclubs. In fact, one of the most important amendments in the package will introduce a much welcomed change for small restaurants. I specifically refer to the removal of the minimum 50-seat requirement in the Liquor Act for a restaurant to be licensed. This requirement is an anachronism that prevents small food venues being licensed based on an artificial limit which has no meaning in the real world. There is obvious merit in allowing smaller eating places to be licensed as a way of encouraging a diversity of venues and meeting community demands.
There is also merit in ensuring that small restaurants can cater for tourists - particularly if they are from overseas - who may not be able to bring their own liquor to a restaurant. In fact, this amendment is strongly supported by small restaurants in tourist areas and "eat streets", including the Blue Mountains, Newtown and the inner city. The opportunity is also being taken to remove an onerous requirement - relating to toilets - that prevents otherwise suitable venues obtaining a restaurant liquor licence. The Liquor Act currently requires restaurants to have toilets within the licensed premises, or if they are not within the premises, the venue must then meet no less than seven special criteria.
One criterion is that the toilets will not be available for use by other persons during the restaurant’s trading hours. These requirements were introduced by the former Government in 1994. The amendment in the bill will remove that requirement, so that the toilets for these restaurants can be shared toilets with other facilities. A good example is a restaurant in a cinema or shopping complex, where restaurant patrons have full access to the toilets in the complex. Currently, such restaurants are prevented from obtaining a liquor licence, which is an unreasonable situation in the Government’s view. I would point out that the bill does not amend the other requirements applying to toilets in these restaurants.
The nightclub amendments in the bill are also straightforward and sensible. They will allow nightclubs with restaurant facilities to operate their venue with a dine-or-drink authority - the same concession the Government introduced last year for licensed restaurants. This amendment means that at the times a nightclub is required by law to operate as a proper restaurant, it can operate as a "dine-or-drink" venue with 30 per cent of patrons having a drink without a meal. That is a reasonable and practical concession now that the dine-or-drink legislation is in place and available to all other restaurant venues.
Nightclub trading hours are also being addressed in a marginal way in this bill. Nightclubs will be able to trade their normal Monday to Saturday trading hours on a Sunday, where the Sunday is followed by a Monday public holiday. The amendment has been sought by the Restaurant and Catering Association, and will benefit people wishing to enjoy themselves at nightclub venues on a Sunday night over a long weekend. The fourth group of amendments in the bill relates to liquor licensing for convenience stores and petrol stations. For some time, the Government has been concerned about the interconnections between the purchase of takeaway liquor, the potential for impulse purchases of liquor, and drink-driving.
There is also concern about the sale of takeaway liquor by venues - such as convenience stores and service stations - whose main purpose is not the sale of liquor. The Licensing Court has dealt with a number of applications in recent times which involve mixed businesses, convenience stores, or service stations in regional areas being granted a licence entitling them to sell takeaway liquor. While I understand that these applications resulted in conditions which require the sale of liquor to be physically separated from the sale of other goods, there is no obligation on the court to require this.
It is acknowledged that commercial opportunities for business - particularly in rural areas - should be promoted and encouraged by government policy and legislation. The Government also recognises that where these facilities are located in remote areas, they often serve multiple functions, including the provision of postal, banking, and general store facilities, as well as liquor sales. So as to ensure that these important facilities and opportunities for New South Wales business can continue, it is not proposed to introduce an outright prohibition on liquor licences for convenience stores, mixed businesses, and service stations - as I understand has occurred in Victoria.
However, the Government is concerned about the potential for abuse and misuse where liquor may be sold as part of a mixed business operation or service station. This is especially so where liquor is sold alongside milk, bread, ice creams and newspapers - and when the sale of liquor is not the primary activity of that business. The Government does not accept the argument that liquor should be treated as a normal commodity like bread, milk and newspapers. That is not in the public interest nor in the interests of our young people.
Therefore, the amendments in the bill will formalise the existing policy. They will make it clear that the court cannot grant an application for an off-licence or to remove an off-licence where the proposed venue is part of a service station, convenience or other store - unless the liquor operation is adequately separated from the rest of the business. As well, the amendments in the bill make it clear that the court cannot grant a takeaway liquor licence to a convenience store or service station unless it is satisfied that there are no other premises in the neighbourhood that could reasonably provide the takeaway liquor service to the public and the grant of the licence would not encourage drink-driving or other liquor-related harm.
These amendments will achieve the Government’s policy of ensuring adequate and proper controls, while also recognising the important services that some of these premises provide. I turn now to the amendments in the bill concerning proof-of-age cards. These cards were introduced in 1991 as a measure to reduce under-age drinking. They have continued to be an important part of this Government’s strategy to prevent under-age drinking - and more recently, under-age smoking. The amendments in the bill result from concerns about threats to the integrity of the proof-of-age card scheme - as a result of the fraudulent manufacture and use of cards, and tampering with proof-of-age cards.
A special Government task force has made specific recommendations for addressing these problems - and the amendments in the bill flow directly from its work. The amendments introduce three new offences - including an offence for manufacturing a false proof-of-age document, giving a false document to another person, and tampering with a proof-of-age card. The maximum penalty for these offences is $2,200 in each case. A $5,500 maximum is provided where the offence is for fraudulent manufacture - and the offence constitutes more serious "aggravated" circumstances.
The new offences and penalties will assist the police in taking action against proof-of-age card fraud. They will particularly address the situation where proof-of-age card "scams" may be occurring on a more organised basis - involving multiple individuals and/or the manufacture of large numbers of false cards. The final group of miscellaneous and machinery amendments in the bill will address a number of specific licensing and penalty matters. For example, amendments will increase the maximum monetary penalty for the sale or supply of liquor without a liquor licence, and for the sale or supply of liquor outside the authority of a liquor licence.
These amendments are a particular priority with the millennium celebrations and Olympics coming up, where unscrupulous people or licensees may be tempted to make a quick buck out of illegal liquor sales in crowded celebration areas. The monetary penalties for these particular offences will be set at a new maximum of $5,500. Another important amendment relates to caterers’ licences. The Government wants to make it clear that caterers’ licences are not meant to facilitate the operation of ongoing public bars - when other types of liquor licences are clearly more suitable.
The liquor laws have always placed an emphasis on the provision of food by licensed caterers, and the amendments will further clarify this. They make it clear that there must be a proper emphasis on food catering at each and every function, occasion and event that they cater for. The sale of liquor must be with or ancillary to the provision of food, and caterers should expect, when operating their licence, to have food of sufficient quantity and quality available for all persons attending the function, occasion or event.
The Government does not believe that token efforts to comply with the law - such as forcing drinkers to take food that they may not want in order to be served with liquor - are appropriate. If that is necessary, then it is obvious that a caterer’s licence is not the right licence for that situation. The amendments clarify these issues, and provide further guidance to caterers themselves, and to the Licensing Court in granting these licences. A further miscellaneous amendment will update the requirements for conditional liquor licence applications.
The amendment takes into account changes to the approvals required for the development and construction of premises, so that applicants need only provide evidence of any relevant approvals required under the planning laws in order to lodge their application. In summing up, the bill before the House is a comprehensive package of viability and public interest measures which recognise that there are special needs associated with the millennium celebrations, as well as ongoing concerns that the liquor laws should be more flexible and realistic. The amendments will have a variety of beneficial impacts for the New South Wales community. I commend the bill to the House.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.13 p.m.]: The Opposition supports the Liquor Amendment Bill. The bill covers a number of issues with respect to liquor reform, many of which the Opposition has had on its agenda for some time. We are pleased to see some of the amendments. In some quarters there is obvious dissatisfaction about extending the provisions to require restaurants with fewer than 50 seats to be licensed, but that was to be expected and perhaps that amendment can be overcome. This bill brings important changes to the Liquor Act and I shall deal with them individually.
The bill will extend the normal trading hours during the millennium celebrations to permit trading from normal opening time on Friday 31 December through to Monday 3 January. The Opposition supports that proposal. During the millennium celebrations hotels that would normally close at some time early in the morning will face problems from extraordinary crowds. Of course, the downside to allowing those crowds to spill out onto the street but deny them the opportunity to purchase further drinks at 1.00 a.m. or 2.00 a.m. on the morning of 1 January would present a severe problem for the law enforcement agencies.
For that reason it is commonsense to allow the extension of liquor trading for this special period. It will be an interesting indication of how to deal with a similar problem that no doubt will arise during the Olympic Games. I understand the Government proposes some amendments to extend liquor trading during the Olympic Games in 2000. The extension of trading hours during the millennium celebrations will be over a couple of days only. Of course, each establishment will decide whether to extend its trading hours during those celebrations.
Some hotel proprietors have indicated already, in the media at least, that they do not propose to open for business during this period beyond 9.00 p.m. or 10.00 p.m., particularly on New Year’s Eve. They believe it is not worth the trouble to incur the problems or the extra cost of employing staff, who must be paid severe penalty loadings for working during that period. Some have consulted staff and were told that they did not particularly want to work on New Year’s Eve. A number of issues fall within the millennium celebration amendments. The Opposition believes the Government is on the right track and will support that part of the bill.
The second part of the bill is close to my heart: the extension of country liquor licences. During the last 18 months concerns were raised about the closure of small hotels in country areas and those licences being transferred to city hotels or to hotels on the perimeter of the city, especially in Central Coast areas. Of course, this procedure has denied small communities the operation of their only liquor outlet. This issue arose in the little town of Tooma, which is near my home town of Holbrook and is between Tumbarumba and the Victorian border -
The Hon. I. M. Macdonald:
A lovely town.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL:
It is a very nice town. It was mentioned with Booroorban, which is halfway between Deniliquin and Hay, and a number of Riverina communities. The discussion centred around the reason liquor licences transfers were such a problem in the south of the State and not in other areas of the State. One can only imagine an agent has successfully purged that area by buying up licences of small hotels to sell to city areas at highly inflated rates. If we had been elected at the last State election our policy was to introduce some form of limited licence to allow local communities to reopen their hotels and trade for the benefit of those communities.
This part of the legislation addresses this issue and a new category of liquor licence called a community liquor licence will be available to communities that have been left without a hotel or liquor outlet through hotel closures or licence removals to allow them to be able to sell liquor. Some honourable members might have noticed that a little town called Pleasant Hills, which has been mentioned in the media over this issue, is looking forward to opening its liquor outlet prior to Christmas.
I ask the Government to expedite these amendments not only through the Chamber but through the processes of the department so Pleasant Hills and other communities that are ready to go and want to get cracking with their new community licences can do so without further delay. I will be interested to hear the Government’s response as to what delays might be expected. I know that Councillor Brian Clancy, the Mayor of the Lockhart shire, is keen to get the community licence up and running at Pleasant Hills.
The bill makes a number of amendments that will allow nightclubs to trade on a Sunday night when the Monday is a public holiday and it will allow nightclubs to operate as dine-or-drink venues. The bill provides for the extension of the licensed premises of a restaurant or a nightclub to include a self-contained accommodation apartment complex providing motor-style accommodation so that liquor can be supplied under the licence to guests staying
in apartments in the complex. That is a small, but important, amendment. I understand that some people we know had difficulty getting a drink in Jindabyne. It is important that we ensure that drinks are available from time to time when required in a motel. These days it is expected, and the amendment to the Act will facilitate that.
An important amendment to the Act is the ability for restaurants with fewer than 50 seats to be fully licensed. I will be interested to see how many restaurants avail themselves of this opportunity. I suspect that smaller restaurants will either retain their bring-your-own status or have limited liquor available as well as retaining their BYO status. I know that the Hon. I. Cohen will move an amendment in this regard, which the Opposition will not support. I also suspect that the smaller restaurants will not be attracted by having thousands and thousands of dollars worth of alcohol and bottled wine sitting on their shelves on the off chance that someone will want to buy a drink.
The smarter restaurants will retain their BYO-status because that is what people want: they want to have a cheap meal in a nice little restaurant with their $10 bottle of red - not pay some inflated price that could add an extra $10 to the bottle of wine. The bill removes the requirement that the toilets of a licensed restaurant be for the exclusive use of patrons if they are located outside the licensed area of the restaurant, for example in an arcade. This provision will overcome some of the problems faced by small restaurants. I have received representations about the change to caterers’ licences to the effect that the bill has a retrospective effect on all applications currently before the court. This is undesirable.
Legislation should not be retrospective. Applications that are currently before the court and are likely to be approved prior to the introduction of this legislation should not be affected by it. Enterprises that have already obtained a caterer’s licence will have to surrender that licence in two years by virtue of the introduction of new section 68 (1) (k). Some 32 caterers’ licences have been identified to me, including university campus centres, race clubs and other venues. A number of diverse organisations have caterers’ licences and may be at risk under this legislation. A number of these organisations fall within the Minister’s area.
I hope the Minister understands what he is doing and that he is prepared to face a number of aggrieved caterers who will be affected by changes to caterers’ licences. The bill contains a number of other amendments, which I will not deal with in detail. Honourable members who are interested in this legislation will have read it. The bill contains a number of miscellaneous changes, including the introduction of new offences to cover the fraudulent manufacture and use of proof-of-age cards and tampering with proof-of-age cards. This change goes hand in hand with recent legislation that will enable the Roads and Traffic Authority to maintain a photographic database of holders of proof-of-age cards and drivers’ licences.
The legislation deals with a number of important matters. The Opposition is very pleased to support them. We believe the legislation goes a long way to improve the circumstances of those complying with liquor licensing in this State. It will be helpful during the millennium celebrations. It will certainly help small communities that have lost their only licensed premise. The Opposition most certainly welcomes that change. We are very pleased that the Government has chosen to introduce that measure in this legislation. The Opposition will support the legislation.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[5.26 p.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party is not in favour of the bill. The House is aware of our position on expanding the availability of liquor in our State. Alcohol is associated with many of our social problems, including violence on the streets and domestic violence. I know that the Government’s argument is that the millennium celebration requires special legislation. The principle behind the bill is to get people off the streets and keep them in the clubs, hotels and restaurants so that there will be fewer problems on the streets. I do not know what consultation occurred - there must have been none - because when the Government announced its intention to extend trading hours for the millennium celebration the first person to criticise it was the Commissioner of Police, Mr Peter Ryan.
The special millennium trading hours will apply from the start of normal trading on Friday 31 December 1999 through the Saturday and Sunday to the end of normal trading on Monday 3 January 2000. However, that automatic extension will not apply for a full 24 hours each day. That could mean that extended trading hours apply for only a few hours, but in fact it applies for 23 hours. All venues taking advantage of this extension will be required to close for at least one hour on each of the three mornings between 3.00 a.m. and 7.00 a.m. to provide a break for venues and patrons. The Commissioner of Police believes that the additional consumption of liquor under this 23-hour trading will result in more people affected by alcohol on the streets. My reading of the media reports is that the
commissioner believes that it will be very difficult for the police to stay in control.
Often when large crowds are expected, the policy now is to prohibit alcohol. People attending sporting events and other special events have their eskies checked to see what they are carrying. Alcohol affects people’s behaviour. But the Government is going the other way and will provide unlimited opportunities for people to consume alcohol. The Government has put forward no plan to deal with any disturbance in shopping centres or other public places caused by people who may have been drinking for 23 hours a day. I agree with the Commissioner of Police. Limited numbers of police are available. I believe the bill will result in small numbers of police who are trying to control huge crowds losing control and being assaulted when they try to control people under the influence of alcohol.
People who are under the influence of alcohol do not respect police when they tell them to behave themselves, although not everyone in the crowd would be violent. I know of individuals who are polite and well-mannered when they are sober but who undergo a personality change under the influence of alcohol and become violent and unreasonable. Alcohol is often involved in domestic violence. Men bash women without realising, in their drunken stupor, what they have done. We face a disaster if that type of behaviour occurs on the streets of Sydney and other parts of New South Wales.
The Government should have had more consultation with the Commissioner of Police and senior police officers. I am not against venues being open but I would like to see the consumption of alcohol in those premises reduced. For those reasons the Christian Democratic Party opposes the bill. I understand that both the Government and the Opposition support the bill. It has been a uniform policy since I was elected to this House in 1981 for both sides of politics to support liquor bills, and I am sure that will be the case on this occasion. However, I register our opposition to the bill.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES
[5.31 p.m.]: My adviser, Jeni Emblem, rang Jeremy Anderson in the Minister’s office on 5 and 8 November and asked for clarification of the increased police powers proposed in the bill, how payment of penalties for proof-of-age fraud will be dealt with - that is, whether judges can impose community service orders rather than a gaol term in the event of an inability to pay - what the education program will consist of, and when it will begin.
Jeremy has since advised that the increased police powers relate only to directions given to licensees, not patrons; the maximum fine for minors for proof-of-age card fraud will be $55, that is 10 per cent of the maximum adult fine; all defendants can apply to have their infringement notices dealt with in court and discuss terms of payment and/or requests for leniency with the magistrate; and the education program is set to begin as soon as the bill is passed. Today I received a letter from the Minister, which states:
I am writing in regard to your office’s representation to Jeremy Anderson concerning the implementation of new provisions for the proof of age card contained in the Liquor Amendment Bill 1999.
The effect of these provisions will be to create new offences concerned with fraudulent manufacture and use of proof of age cards and tampering with proof of age cards.
Having considered the position put forward by your office and in discussions with the Department of Gaming and Racing it has been agreed that this section will be proclaimed on 1st March 2000.
I believe this will create ample time to educate minors on the Government’s proof of age card program and industry groups on the new offences to be put in place. This will be achieved through a consultation and education program with the Education Department and the Liquor Industry Consultative Committee.
I thank Jeremy Anderson and the Minister for their help on these matters.
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA
(Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer) [5.33 p.m.], in reply: The Opposition has indicated support for this legislation. I am aware of the commitments given to the Hon. R. S. L. Jones. As Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile indicated, these matters are bipartisan and because no peculiar matters have been raised, I do not proposed to labour the point any further. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to
Bill read a second time.
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA
(Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer) [5.34 p.m.]: I move:
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL
That this bill be now read a third time.
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.34 p.m.]: I indicated in my contribution to the second reading debate that it was important that the new community licence for
country hotels proceed as quickly as possible. I hoped that the Minister in reply would give some indication that there would not be unnecessary delays. I ask the Minister to address that point in the third reading debate.
The Hon. I. COHEN
[5.35 p.m.]: I thought that as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had referred to my foreshadowed amendment we would go into Committee as a natural progression. However, I understand that it is not accepted and that the Government knows nothing about it. I foreshadowed moving an amendment to ensure that restaurants which apply for on-licences cannot exclude people from bringing their own liquor. Once restaurants become licensed they can ban individuals from bringing their own liquor and charge exorbitant prices for alcohol supplied by the restaurants.
If this were to occur in restaurants across the board, together with the goods and services tax to be introduced next year, restaurant eating could be far more expensive. The Greens are particularly worried about how the bill will impact on low-income individuals if the majority of restaurants decide to take up the on-licence option and then ban people from bringing their own liquor. Although we acknowledge that many large restaurants already ban individuals from bringing their own liquor, it would not have been fair to draft an amendment which targets only restaurants that seat fewer than 50 people - those restaurants which, under the bill, are able to apply for on-licences.
Previously, only restaurants which catered for more than 50 people could apply for the licences. An amendment which targets small restaurants would have been discriminatory. Therefore, it is necessary to apply the rule across the board. Parliamentary Counsel advises that the amendment still allows for a reasonable corkage fee to be charged if people bring their own liquor. I consider that to be a reasonable amendment by the Greens on this issue.
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA
(Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer) [5.37 p.m.], in reply: As to the concerns raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about my failure to set his mind at rest, I am advised by the Minister that he is in a position to proceed with the community licence proposals but not until late January at the earliest to enable administrative arrangements to be put in place. The Minister has undertaken to proceed with the matter as soon as it is administratively possible.
I had the privilege of meeting with a large number of mayors from the south-west of the State. Many are concerned that country hotels are under severe pressure and that licences are being lost from small communities. Those areas look forward with zeal to the introduction of community licensing so that community hospitality can remain in those towns and villages in which licensed hotels are under threat.
The Hon. D. J. Gay:
The meeting was in Young.
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA:
It was in Grenfell, and it was a good meeting. The Hon. I. M. Macdonald lives in Young. I apologise to the Hon. I. Cohen. I meant no discourtesy in respect to his amendment. I am advised by the Clerk that it is within the authority of the House to ask for a recommittal of his amendment. I might add that the Government does not intend to support his amendment.
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull:
Nor does the Opposition.
The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA:
I am advised that the Opposition is similarly inclined. However, in the interests of fairness, perhaps he could be allowed to move the amendment if the standing orders permit him to do so.
The Hon. I. COHEN
[5.40 p.m.], by leave: I thank the Minister for his generous offer. I appreciate that we are rushing through bills and that matters can become confused. I did not think for one moment that his action was intentional. Given that I have placed the argument on the record, I am quite satisfied, and I will not move the amendment. I thank the Minister for his courtesy in this matter.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a third time.