|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
The Liquor Control Act 1968 (No.7695) came into operation on 1 July 1968 on which date the Liquor Control Commission was constituted. This Act incorporated a number of recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Sale, Supply, Disposal or Consumption of Liquor in Victoria which commenced in 1963. It marked the end of the system of Licensing Magistrates and Licensing Courts which had operated for over 100 years. The Commission took over the functions previously exercised by the Victorian Licensing Court and the Licences Reduction Board
The Licensing Court of three members was replaced by the Liquor Control Commission of four members, the chairman being a County Court Judge with a tenure of 7 years. This practice was discontinued in 1976 as a result of the Liquor Control (Chairman) Act 1975 (No.8761) enacted on 18 November 1975 and proclaimed on 4 December 1975. The change meant that the chairman could be a "judicial member" and could retain office until the age of 72 years.
The object of the Act was to ensure the orderly and continuous improvement in, and the development of, facilities for the supply of accommodation, meals and liquor to the public. The Commission was responsible for establishing standards in these areas and ensuring that they were met. It also had the authority to issue or cancel licences. In addition the Act established a new provision whereby the Commission could suspend a licence for a period of time.
Numerous alterations were made in the licensing law and practice of the State, the 1968 Act completely re-writing the law. All fees taken under the Act and all fines, penalties, forfeitures, and moneys incurred or accruing under it were paid into the Licensing Fund set up under the Licensing Act 1958 (No.6293).
The power to increase or decrease the number of licenses issued in certain areas was also afforded to the Commission. Determinations in this respect were usually made on the basis of recommendations from local councils. A completely new code of compensation was set out under the new Act with payments made from the Licensing Fund.
The system of Licensing Inspectors continued, the duties of inspecting premises and enforcing the provisions of the Act being undertaken by nominated members of the police force not below the rank of sub-inspector.
Cessation of the Commission
From 1968 to 1988 when the Commission was replaced by the Liquor Licensing Commission several new types of licences were introduced but the system of registration of licensing remained basically the same. In October 1984 Dr J.P. Nieuwenhuysen undertook a comprehensive review which concluded that licensing practice in Victoria was restrictive and outdated and did not meet the demands imposed by recent social changes. The general thrust of the report was that the Act under which the licensing laws of Victoria were administered was outdated and cumbersome. New social and economic developments associated with liquor licensing had been restricted by the antiquated nature of the law.
Three basic changes in liquor policy were suggested:
greater use of instruments outside and within a licensing Act, especially tailored to counter problems of alcohol misuse
a less economically and otherwise intrusive and overlapping licensing Act, with greater flexibility for the business of licence holders
administrative reform of liquor licensing and a clear separation of judicial and administrative functions.
In 1987 the Liquor Control Act was passed and incorporated many of the report's recommendations.
The object of the Act was to respond to community interest by:
promoting economic and social growth in Victoria by encouraging the proper development of the liquor, hospitality and related industries
facilitating the development of a diversity of licensed facilities reflecting consumer demand
providing adequate controls over the sale, disposal and consumption of liquor
The Liquor Licensing Commission came into operation as the successor to the Liquor Control Commission on 3 May 1988. Unlike the previous agency it was not a quasi-judicial body but represented a less formal approach to the control of the sale, supply, and consumption of liquor. The Act provided that the new Commission should consist of a Commissioner, a Deputy Commissioner, (both of whom must be legal practitioners of not less than five years standing) and one or more Assistant Commissioners. The legislation also made provision for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (s.35), a Registrar and licensing fund assessors and other officers and employees as might be necessary (s.45).
The Commission was required to receive, process, and grant or refuse
applications for new licences or permits
transfers of existing licences
suspension or cancellation of a licence or permit
extended hours permits
consideration of objections to licence applications through preliminary conferences and, failing resolution, through determinations following hearings.
It was the role of the Commission to :
assess and collect licensing fees
under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to act as a referral authority with respect to any question that arises under a planning scheme relating to premises where a liquor licence may be sought
to disseminate information regarding the operation of the Liquor Control Act to prospective applicants and the general public.
The primary function of the members of the Commission was to make decisions in accordance with the Act on applications put before them and to act as the referral authority under the Planning and Environment Act. The administration is the joint responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer and the Registrar.
With the passing of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (No 94/1998) the Liquor Licensing Commission was abolished. This legislation was the result of a review of the Liquor Control Act 1997 against national competition policy principles. The goals of the legislation were to establish a framework for the sale of liquor that contributed to the minimisation of harm whilst facilitating the development of the industry and meeting community expectations regarding the availability and appropriate opportunities for the consumption of liquor.
The Commission was replaced by a Director of Liquor Licensing to be appointed by the Governor in Council. The Director was to be responsible for the administration of the Act with the power to determine applications for licences and permits in a timely and accurate fashion. Liquor licensing (as Liquor Licensing Victoria) operates as part of the small business portfolio situated in the Department of State Development and later the Department of State and Regional Development.
A Liquor Licensing Panel, with the number of members to be determined by the Minister was established to consider the merits of objections against licence applications referred to it by the Director and to provide a recommendation to the Director as to whether the application should be granted. Further rights of appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal were provided for in the Act.
The option for areas to remain dry after a poll conducted by local municipalities remained as did the system of licensing inspectors. Inspectors were to be appointed by the Chief Commissioner of Police from members of the police force of the rank of inspector or above. Police retained the right to issue infringement notices for breaches of the Act and to take proceedings in a Magistrates Court and/or before the Victorian Civil and Administrative tribunal.
The Act also established the Co-ordinating Council on Control of Liquor Abuse. The fifteen members of the Council were to be made up of persons representing the Minister responsible for the administration of specific Acts and persons with expertise and knowledge in specified areas, all to be nominated by the Minister and appointed by the Governor in Council. The Councils function is to advise the Minister on the problems of alcohol abuse and other matters as referred by the Minister.