The amendments to the Liquor Control Act have now passed through Parliament with their commencement as law imminent.

There are a number of key changes which impact on liquor stores, in particular the larger liquor barns.

There is now a prohibition on granting, removing, altering or redefining packaged liquor premises in certain circumstances.  The Act prohibits the application for the grant of a new packaged liquor outlet or for the removal or alteration of an existing packaged liquor facility where:

  • The proposed or existing retail display area is over a ‘prescribed area’, which is expected to be over 400sqm (Prescribed Area); and
  • The retail display area of an existing packaged liquor outlet is over the Prescribed Area (Existing Large Outlet); and
  • The proposed packaged liquor outlet is situated less than the ‘prescribed distance’ from an Existing Large Outlet (expected to be 5km in the metropolitan area).

Whilst the amendments to the Act have been passed, the consequential amendments to the Liquor Regulations are yet to be released, so terms such as ‘prescribed area’ are not yet known.

The explanatory memorandum for the Amendment Bill outlined the intended purpose of the change as follows:

“As a strategy to minimise the adverse impact that packaged liquor outlets can have on the community, the Bill inserts new section 36B to enable the licensing authority to manage the number of packaged liquor outlets where sufficient outlets already exist within a locality. This will be complemented by additional amendments relating to large packaged liquor outlets being established in close proximity to an existing large packaged liquor outlet.”

The newly introduced section 36B(4) of the Act states that the licensing authority must not grant an application unless satisfied that local packaged liquor requirements cannot reasonably be met by existing packaged liquor premises in the locality. The effect of this provisions provides a safeguard for existing small packaged liquor retailers, as a burdensome onus is placed upon larger outlets to prove the proposed locality is not already catered for. It means that not only must the application be in the public interest, but the applicant must also demonstrate a ‘need’ for another packaged liquor outlet in the locality. This represents a significant win for existing retailers, as it curtails the expansion from the major liquor barns.

Ryan & Durey Solicitors are one of WA’s leading liquor licensing law firms who provide advice in all forms of liquor licensing. If you are require advice on how the new liquor reforms might affect you, please contact Jarrod Ryan (jarrod@ryandurey.com), Alyce Cassettai (alyce@ryandurey.com) or Don Harley (don@ryandurey.com).