The Director of Liquor Licensing has published two further refusal decisions since our most recent snapshot, ‘Director's decisions signal tough times for applicants’. Both applications failed to satisfy the licensing authority that the grants were in the public interest. This is despite the fact both applicants lodged objective evidence in support from potential customers. These decisions support our assessment in the last snapshot that the evidence lodged in support of applications is being far more thoroughly scrutinised than in times past.
The applicant for a liquor store licence in the Asian grocery store in William Street, Perth lodged a petition as well as letters of support from surrounding neighbours. The Director dismissed the evidence, stating there must be ‘…an appropriate level of evidence … that there is real and reasonable consumer requirement to justify … the licence.’ It was held ‘The petition is of no substance in relation to supporting the abovementioned assertions and is of no probative value; at best they are general statements of support for the grant of the application for the liquor store licence.’ As to the other evidence, the Director found that ‘With respect to the letters of support, no weight is assigned to them as per the Liquor Commission’s assessment in Busswater Pty Ltd [LC 17/2010]’. These findings were in the context of the conclusion that there were ‘… high levels of alcohol-related harm, including anti-social behaviour and violence in Perth and Northbridge.’
The application for a liquor store licence at the Armadale Farmers Market was also refused in the public interest despite evidence from potential customers in the form of 28 witness questionnaires and 229 witness petitions. There was, however, significant opposition in this case, including objections from the Armadale Lotteries House Management Committee, surrounding licensees as well as an intervention from the Executive Director Public Health. As a result of the submissions put forward by the objectors and intervener, the Director ultimately concluded that ‘…as there is already alcohol-related harm occurring in Armadale, I am of the opinion that even a relatively small risk of increase in that level of harm not to be in the public interest.’
These latest refusals by the Director coincide with the Liquor Commission’s refusal last month of the Dan Murphy’s Cockburn Central store. The Commission confirmed its opposition to Dan Murphy’s applications having also refused the application for a store at the Melville Plaza Shopping Centre last year.
This recent hardening of attitudes has been followed by an amendment to the Public Interest Assessment Policy on 29 February 2012. Previously that Policy stated that the licensing authority might seek further information from applicants where considering applications. That reference has now been deleted.
It appears reasonable to conclude that applicants for liquor licences do now face a significantly more difficult assessment process than in times past. Five out of the nine published decisions in January to February were refused. In the preceding two months only one out of seven failed. The honeymoon period since the introduction of the Liquor Control Act in May 2007 appears to be over.
If you require assistance preparing your application or have any other liquor licensing query please do not hesitate to contact:
|Dan Mossenson||Ian Curlewis|
|(08) 9288 6769||(08) 9288 6756|
|Jessica Patterson||Alec Weston|
|(08) 9288 6946||(08) 9288 6873|