Newcastle City Council’s submission to a review of liquor-licence laws says venues with a record of good behaviour should be allowed to trade longer into the night.
The submission, which was shown to and endorsed by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday night, also says venues should be allowed to serve cocktails until midnight and not 10pm, as is the case under special licence conditions introduced by the Independent NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority in 2008.
The authority is reviewing the suite of special conditions known as the “Newcastle solution” after lobbying by the Australian Hotels Association.
The council submission, developed by a team including its Smart City coordinator, Dr Nathaniel Bavinton, supports a consistent 1.30am lockout and 3.30am shutdown for all premises, except those designated as “low impact”.
Dr Bavinton said the submission proposed additional classifications for premises that achieved and maintained low-impact status.
“Importantly, we need laws that incentivise licensed venues to strive to make our CBD safer,” he said in a council statement after Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s council's view that venues who consistently demonstrate outstanding responsible service of alcohol should be allowed to trade longer than those that occasionally don’t.”
Low-impact venues would be defined as those with a strong, consistent focus on noise management and responsible service of alcohol, and a track record on alcohol-related and liquor-licensing incidents.
“We need to be able to reward venues that consistently demonstrate sound and effective alcohol-related management policies and practices,” Dr Bavington said.
“The aim of our night-time economy strategy is to create a more diverse range of venues later into the night.”
The AHA has called on the liquor authority to move limits on doubles and shots from 10pm to midnight and exempt a list of cocktails, as allowed in the corresponding Sydney conditions, that can be sold.
It also wants venues to be able to apply for exemptions to the lockout laws.
The Newcastle solution was introduced almost 10 years ago amid community concern at the level of late-night violence in the inner-city. A 2011 study into its effectiveness estimated violence had fallen 37 per cent since the rules were introduced.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the city had changed significantly since 2008.
“Our night-time economy is now worth $1.4 billion a year and employs more than 12,000 people,” she said in the council statement.
“We need laws that reflect the evolution of that night-time economy, which has been led by a strong growth in smaller night-time venues attracting a more sophisticated, responsible crowd.
“This is about achieving a balance between controlling alcohol-related incidents and stimulating the kind of city life after dark that attracts broader participation and investment in Newcastle.”
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