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  • A range of changes to NSW liquor laws began to roll out from late 2020, with more to follow during 2021.
  • The changes encourage live music and entertainment, arts and cultural events, support small bars and make licensee obligations clearer.
  • Changes include a new demerits points and cascading sanction system for liquor licensees.

The licensing and control of the sale and supply of alcohol has changed over the years to deal with the perceived risks, community demands and changing lifestyles. A new Liquor Act (‘the Act‘) was introduced in 2008, followed by a Liquor Freeze in 2009, and in 2011 the ‘Three Strikes’ amendment was introduced. Most recently, the Liquor Amendment (Night-time Economy) Act No. 40 [NSW] 2020 (‘Amending Act‘) introduced a new disciplinary and noise complaints system in addition to a number of other changes. The Amending Act has four aims:

  1. Establishing an integrated demerit points and incentives scheme
  2. Providing for ‘Cumulative Impact Assessments’ for social impact
  3. Regulating the same day delivery of liquor
  4. Aligning Liquor Licensing & Planning laws and promoting live music.

Demerit points and incentives & sanctions systems

Under Part 9A, the Act creates a single, integrated incentives and sanctions system using some of the key points of previous schemes (Three strikes i.e. ‘Strikes will be removed but the existing sanctions imposed on the Licence remain’, Violent Venues and Minors Sanctions). It also introduces demerit points, a cascading penalty system, an appeal process, and a public register.

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