22 March 2024

More options for night owls and support for live music touted under proposed changes to liquor laws

| Claire Fenwicke
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musicians playing live at small venue

The next round of law changes hope to boost live music and support for artists in Canberra venues. Photo: Herbert’s at Evatt / Facebook.

Canberrans could soon have more options for a late-night bite or drink under proposed amendments to liquor laws.

The changes under the Liquor (Night-Time Economy) Amendment Bill 2024 were flagged late last year as part of a tranche of changes to try and boost the ACT’s night-time economy.

It aims to remove regulatory barriers to create more flexibility for businesses, as well as legislate the ACT Government’s support to further develop Canberra’s after-hours options.

Government Services and Regulatory Reform Minister Tara Cheyne said the bill contained a range of reforms which reflected feedback from industry, as well as making sure harm minimisation and community safety principles remained effective.

“These latest amendments will ensure day or night, Canberrans and visitors alike can benefit from a city that is safe, accessible and rich with a diversity of experiences,” she said.

“This is a tranche of reforms designed to achieve the government’s vision for Canberra’s night-time economy and forms part of a larger body of work to support night-time economy growth which also includes safety, support for entertainment precincts, and consultation on noise settings.

“We’ve heard from businesses and the community alike and are responding to their needs by fostering a dynamic social scene in the ACT.”

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The first wave of measures were introduced on 1 January. These included liquor fee reductions for small businesses and longer trading hours for restaurants and cafes.

If passed, the amendment bill will include the next round of changes. These include incentives for venues to showcase artists, musicians and other cultural activities, such as offering reduced liquor licensing fees and allowing licensees to extend their trading hours and modify their floor plans to cater for more customers.

Interim liquor licenses would be introduced so new businesses could open their doors faster and the government would gain the power to declare special events with automatic extended trading hours.

“We want Canberra to be recognised as a destination of choice, where talents and creativity of businesses, artists and entrepreneurs are readily showcased and valued,” Ms Cheyne said.

“The reforms are expected to stimulate business growth, leading to the creation of new jobs across various sectors. The ACT Government is committed to fostering a thriving night-time economy that benefits businesses, the community, and the city’s economic wellbeing, without compromising on safety.”

If passed, it’s expected these changes will begin in July.

More information about the ACT Government’s night-time economy reform can be found online.

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GrumpyGrandpa8:27 pm 22 Mar 24

So the government has reduced liquor licensing fees and is allowing extending trading hours and allowing licensees to modify their floor space (to cater for more people).

Minister, please explain how this equates to maintaining harm minimisation and community safety principles.

To me, more inebriated people out at night for longer period of time equates to more harm and less safety.

ChrisinTurner3:11 pm 22 Mar 24

How do you measure “harm minimisation”?

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