Business owners in the region are celebrating after the WA Government relaxed some of its liquor laws and removed bureaucratic red tape.
From August 18, new liquor licensing laws will come into effect making changes to WAs hospitality industry.
The changes will allow patrons of small bars and taverns to take home their partially drunken bottles of wine, which currently only applied to restaurant goers.
People with existing licences who want to cater at pop-up bars or short term events will have an easier time through an improved streamlined licensing process.
Restaurants which cater for 120 people or less will be able to serve alcohol without a meal provided they opt in during the application process.
Existing restaurants which want to opt in will still require a permit. however a Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor director said this could be issued without a fee and would be made as simple and accessible as possible.
“The department will be inviting to all holders of a restaurant licence that dont currently have this permit to apply for one shortly,” the director said.
Spirit producers will be able to trade in the same manner as wine and beer producers – authorising the sale of liquor for consumption on and off licenses premises.
Clubs in WA will be allowed to accept tourists and visitors, but fees will apply to visitors.
Discretion will be given to the licensing authority to consider low-risk applications without having regard to the public interest assessment requirements.
Ongoing extended trading permits will be valid for up to 10 years (increased from five years) cutting burden and costs to business owners.
Cape Cellars owner Rob Zahtila said the changes to extended trading hours was great news and would save him a lot of paperwork to trade on Sundays.
“It saves stress, this is great news and a nice bit of cutting the red tape,” he said.
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said she welcomed these liquor reforms and any measure which lessened the regulatory burden for the benefit of the tourism industry and small business.
Ms Mettam said she raised concerns during debate about the legislation underlining the importance of ensuring pop-up bars was not to the detriment of permanent venues which have high levels of compliance to strict guidelines.
“It is pleasing to see that this has eventuated. Like Uber and Airbnb, pop-up bars provide choice and competition but as long as it is within a fair and comparable trading environment,” she said.
“This legislation will support local business and I look forward to seeing how this will translate in terms of increased jobs in hospitality and encouraging more visitors to the region.
Ms Mettam also said she was pleased there was some success by extending the renewal period for extended trading permits from five to 10 years, but would like the reforms to make it easier to obtain.
“Currently businesses have to go through an exhaustive and costly process to obtain an ETP and often small businesses simply cant afford to do it. They are also only granted for a maximum of five years,” she said.
“There needs to be less red tape so small businesses can compete with the likes of Woolworths and Coles – evening the playing field for liquor stores seeking Sunday trading in regional areas and making it easier for bars and hotels to get extended trading hours.”
Ms Mettam also welcomed greater powers for police to issue barring notices outside licensed premises but said the vicinity of where and how the notices could be issued needed further work.
Premier Mark McGowan said the new changes, which would come into effect this weekend, would strike the right balance between community health and safety while encouraging a more tourism-friendly hospitality culture.
“Tourism is a key economic driver for WA and plays a vital role in our plan to diversify the States economy and create new jobs,” he said.
Tourism and Racing and Gaming minister Paul Papalia said the changes were the most significant liquor reforms for WA in over a decade.
“A tremendous amount of work and consultation has gone into the development of this important legislation, and the result is a framework which all Western Australians can be proud of,” he said.
“It is time to modernise the hospitality and tourism industries, and these laws strike a good balance between the responsible consumption of liquor together with the tourism and employment benefits of a dynamic and prosperous hospitality industry.”