July 2016

 

Normans Alert

 Liquor Licensing – Review recommends substantial diminution of council input

 

Former Supreme Court Justice Anderson has recently completed his independent review of the South Australian Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (LL Act).

A comprehensive review

The review considered 89 submissions, involved hearings, looked at interstate and international examples, and has resulted in a report totalling 330 pages.

The review sets out 129 recommendations, and considers that new legislation replace the LL Act.

The very dense report provides interesting analysis on all aspects on liquor licensing. Topics examined include licence categories and limitations, ‘lockouts’, liquor in supermarkets, dry areas (including a recommendation that councils be granted an ability to impose event-specific, 48-hour temporary dry zones), and compliance and enforcement.

However, there is one aspect of the report in particular which is likely to be of concern to our readership. Specifically, recommendations aimed at resolving the purported ‘confusion and overlap between the planning approval framework and the liquor licensing regime’ would, if enacted, largely deprive councils of any say or involvement in matters of liquor licensing in the future.

Planning, objections, and the removal of councils’ say

In short, the review considers that ‘parking, noise, refuse collection and the like’ should be dealt with by councils at the planning stage. Certain licence applications should require development approval under the Development Act 1993 (Development Act). Application for licences should not be made until after development approval is granted.

Significantly, the review then consider that councils should then not have the right to object to or intervene in any liquor licence application, or to make any submission (the review considers that the entire objection process should be replaced with a system of written submissions), as the council will already have dealt with any concerns in the planning approval process.

The review acknowledges that the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act) will replace the Development Act. The review also recommends that the Planning and Design Code under the PDI Act should prescribe in which areas different types of licensed venues are an acceptable use of land and contain general land use conditions relating to those licensed venue.

However, the review does not appear to recognise the fact that, under the PDI Act, councils will no longer be the planning authority for the purposes of issuing development plan consent. Accordingly, the proposal to remove a council’s right to object will, in the many cases where the council has no practical input in the planning approval stage, remove any right of the council to have any meaningful input at any stage whatsoever. The Liquor Licensing Commissioner would have discretion to invite submissions from a council, but this will not be as of right.

Moving forward

This review is the first step towards proposed legislative reform. There will be many stages between now and any ultimate enactment of legislation. The State Government is presently considering the recommendations of the review, and we anticipate that ultimately consultation will be held upon a position paper and potentially a draft bill.

We look forward to assisting councils throughout this review of South Australia’s liquor licensing laws. For more specific information on any of the material contained in this article please contact Paul Kelly on +61 8 8210 1248 or pkelly@normans.com.au, or Dale Mazzachi on +61 8 8210 1221 or dmazzachi@normans.com.au