How can the public have confidence that the current review of the lockout laws will be comprehensive and impartial when the risk-based liquor licence scheme, which targets problem venues, was never implemented?
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 15:16 :11 ): My question is directed to the Deputy Premier, and Minister for Justice and Police. Given his recent announcement at the Australian Hotels Association (NSW) Council dinner, how can the public have confidence that the current review of the Liquor Amendment Act, which includes lockout laws, will be comprehensive and impartial when the risk-based liquor licence scheme, which targets problem venues, was never implemented?
Mr TROY GRANT ( Dubbo—Minister for Justice and Police, Deputy Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Racing) (15:16:53): I welcome the question from the member for Newtown which is fundamentally wrong in its premise, but I will explain why. The periodic risk-based licensing scheme was part of the Government's response to increased alcohol-fuelled violence in the State in 2014. It came in 2014; the question asked by the member for Newtown said it did not. Previously, no annual fees were paid by liquor licence holders and this is not in line with contemporary compliance practice. In 2015, the initial base fees were rolled out and paid by licensed venues, with additional compliance loadings to be added in 2016.
Ms Jenny Leong: Kings Cross and the Sydney central business district area.
The SPEAKER: Order! This is not the time for debate.
Mr TROY GRANT: Within the 2014 legislation that we introduced, there was a requirement to conduct a statutory review in 2016—after a two-year period. Previously, The Greens welcomed the Government announcement that the eminently qualified former High Court Justice Ian Callinan was to conduct the review of all liquor laws in New South Wales. Quite a few have been introduced since that time and the periodic licensing scheme is one of them. Due to the fact that the scheme was being reviewed, Cabinet decided to delay the additional payments until the review is completed in 2017 to allow it to take place without influence and without penalty for any sector. Submissions to the review are publicly available on the website of the Department of Justice and many specifically address the periodic licensing scheme, so it is part of the terms of reference. We are now awaiting the completion of the review and receiving the recommendations from Mr Callinan.
The essence of the member's question, I understand, comes from a newspaper report that was published in one of the Sydney newspapers that I made this announcement at a function. For the interest of the member of Newtown, the same publication on Sunday 17 April reported that the periodic licensing scheme was a hefty burden on Sydney's pubs and clubs. The following week the newspaper published that delaying the additional payments by one year, allowing them to be openly and transparently reviewed, was bowing to the demands of the hotel lobby. There are contradictory views about alcohol policy in this State and Mr Callinan is looking at the views and issues on both sides of the debate. A review is completed without government interference.
Mr Callinan will hand down his recommendations. The Government will adopt the recommendations made by Mr Callinan and we will get on with business. The comment that delaying the additional payments by one year, allowing them to be openly and transparently reviewed, was bowing to the demands of the hotel lobby is simply incorrect. It is the appropriate thing to do. If a policy is being reviewed, we do not continue with an additional component of it until the review is completed. The lockout laws and associated measures generated many mixed views in the community and the Government is committed to doing what it said it would do, and that is conducting an evidence-based and open review. I hope that The Greens contribute to it.