The Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Act 2016 was passed recently by the Queensland Government with the support of the Katter Australia Party. It will shortly introduce a number of changes affecting many licensees in Queensland.
By far the biggest impact will be from the change in trading hours. From 1 July 2016 licensed premises, other than casinos and airports with Special Facility licences, will be permitted to trade no later than 3 am in Safe Night Precincts (SNP), or 2 am outside SNPs. The changes are described in more detail below.
Outside a Safe Night Precinct
- If you are not currently authorised to trade until 2 am or later, there will be no change to your trading hours.
- If you are currently authorised to trade past 2 am, this authority will be cancelled on 1 July 2016 and from that date the latest you can trade is 2 am.
In a Safe Night Precinct
- If you are not currently authorised to trade until 3 am or later, there will be no change to your trading hours.
- If you are currently authorised to trade past 3 am, this authority will be cancelled on 1 July 2016 and from that date the latest you can trade is 3 am.
During the period from 1 July 2016 to 1 July 2017 each SNP board (where one exists) will have the option apply for approval as a “3 am Safe Night Precinct”. If the board of the SNP does not make an application, or the approval is not granted, from 1 February 2017 all licensed premises in the SNP will have their authorised hours wound back to 2 am.
If the board of the SNP successfully obtains designation as a “3 am Safe Night Precinct”, licensees with authority to trade until 3 am can continue to do so after 1 February 2017.
In any case, liquor may still be consumed during the grace period, which is 30 minutes after the end of the authorised trading period.
From 1 July 2016 until 31 January 2017 there will be no lockout in effect in Queensland.
From 1 February 2017 licensed premises in a prescribed “3 am Safe Night Precinct” will be subject to a 1 am to 3 am lockout. After 3 am, patrons may enter the premises to purchase non-alcoholic drinks, food or enjoy entertainment or gaming.
Temporary Extended Trading Hours
After 1 July any licensee may apply for a one-off approval to trade until 5 am. As before, licensees are limited to a maximum of 12 one-off approvals in a year and the application must be submitted at least 21 days in advance of the date requested.
What happens after last drinks?
The Premier and Attorney General have claimed on a number of occasions that they are only “calling last drinks” rather than forcing people to go home early. And that licensees will be able to trade past 2 (or 3) am in other goods and services. Some suggestions are that venues could continue to offer entertainment, soft drinks, coffees and food into the small hours. However, feedback from industry suggests the only places likely to trade after the end of liquor sales are adult entertainment and electronic gaming venues.
Rapid Intoxication Drinks
The amendments include new restrictions on the sale of certain types of drinks after midnight. Most of the publicity about these changes has referred to the sale of shots or neat spirits. However, at this stage no particular type of drink has been prescribed, and until this occurs, the changes will not come into effect.
The amendments also provide an opportunity for licensees to apply for an exemption to the bans on rapid intoxication drinks. The criteria for an exemption centre on the supply of premium spirits in either a small premises, or a small part of a larger premises (that is an area with a seating capacity of no more than 60 people).
For a product to be a “rapid intoxication drink” it must be prescribed in the Liquor Regulation. This has not occurred yet, and will not take place until after consultation with the industry. At the date of publication of this article consultation with licensees has been scheduled for April 2016, we will update our website when the regulations have been updated.