3 February 2022

$7000 fine sends safety message to Canberra's nightclub operators

| Ian Bushnell
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Night club

The government says licensed venues must adhere to their legal requirements. Photo: File.

Canberra’s nightclubs have been put on notice to maintain their COVID-19 and security measures after the licensee of a city venue was slapped with a $7000 fine and publicly reprimanded.

The Commissioner for Fair Trading took then licensee Mojoe Enterprises to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal last September for alleged multiple contraventions of the Liquor Act and Liquor Regulation.

These included failing to retain CCTV coverage last February that could have helped police investigate an incident at the venue, which ACAT did not name as the business has since been sold.

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The licensee failed to report “reportable incidents” to the Commissioner within the statutory time frame 12 times between January and March 2021, and to meet its risk management plan when security guards failed to sign the venue’s register properly on 7 March and 2 April 2021.

The nightclub had also failed to comply with its COVID-19 occupancy loadings by not keeping a proper count of patrons.

The nightclub’s liquor licence was suspended for a day and amended to include a condition to retain CCTV footage for 21 days.

“Although technical difficulties with the respondent’s equipment may explain the failure to retain the footage from 21 February 2021, the condition underscores the value of these recordings for both internal and external investigations,” ACAT said.

“In this case, there was an impact on the community because of the loss of information which may have been captured in the footage on that particular day.”

ACAT made its orders on 30 November last year but only published its reasons last Friday (28 January).

It said the sale of the business, which meant Mojoe Enterprises would only operate it for a short time longer, limited how far it could go in penalising the nightclub operator.

But the fine and reprimand were appropriate and would be a deterrent and a reminder to the respondent and to liquor licensees generally of maintaining its security systems and obligations under the law, ACAT said.

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Executive Branch Manager, Fair Trading and Compliance, Josh Rynehart, said that the outcome demonstrated the ACT Government’s ongoing focus of supporting harm minimisation and community safety by ensuring licensed venues adhered to their obligations under the Liquor Act.

“Licensed venues must adhere to their legal requirements and ensure compliance with their venue’s Risk Assessment Management Plan (RAMP) at all times to support public safety,” he said.

“This ruling sends a strong message to licensees about the possible serious ramifications of failing to comply with their obligations.”

 

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