From 16 December 2021 one of the first waves of changes to the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (LCRA) will come into effect in accordance with the recently passed Liquor Control Reform Amendment Act 2021 (the Amendment).
The changes were proclaimed on Tuesday 7 December 2021, with the balance of major changes to the LCRA to come into effect at a later stage. Those more substantive changes include the introduction of new licence categories, and the introduction of 1:00am as ‘ordinary trading hours’ among other substantial changes.
The keys changes that will come into effect from 16 December 2021 are as follows.
Removal of dry areas in the City of Boroondara and City of Whitehorse
The Amendment will remove the requirement for a ‘liquor licensing poll’ to take place before a new General, On-Premises or Club licence can be granted in the dry areas of the City of Boroondara and City of Whitehorse. The liquor licensing poll previously meant that any new licence application would have to be approved by majority vote in a poll of surrounding residents before it could be determined by the Commission.
The abolition of the ‘dry areas’ means that liquor licence applications in these LGAs will now follow the same procedures as all other liquor licensing applications in Victoria.
The changes will also allow venues holding Club Licences in the City of Boroondara and City of Whitehorse to supply liquor to authorised gaming visitors, being those who live more than 5km from the club. This is consistent with Club Licences in other LGAs. Clubs will not need to amend their liquor licences in order to do so – but may need to amend their club rules (if the rules do not currently allow for the supply of liquor to authorised gaming visitors).
If you have any questions about how the removal of the dry areas affects you, or if you have questions regarding a change of your rules please contact our office.
Power to issue new licences and vary licences in a state of emergency
The Minister will have the power to make an order authorising a licensee or class of licensee to supply packaged liquor when there is a state of emergency declared under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
The purpose of this provision appears to be to give the Commission more confidence and legislative power in issuing temporary classes of licences of the sort that were issued in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The changes also allow the Commission to make variations to liquor licences at its own initiative during such a state of emergency. Unlike the existing powers under the LCRA, the Commission does not have to afford the licensee an opportunity to object or make submissions regarding the variation.
This new power to vary licences is very broad and can apply to any licence while a state of emergency is in effect. Variations that are made under this provision will cease to have effect when revoked by the Commission or when the state of emergency ends.
We will provide further updates about the more major changes that have been made to the Liquor Control Reform Act early in the new year to assist venues prepare for any changes that may effect their operations. We will also monitor and provide as much notice as possible as to when these further changes will come into effect.
This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.