Liquor licensing: red tape on Australian businesses

This report was published by the Institute of Public Affairs with Jake Fraser and Chris Berg

Executive Summary

Hospitality and related industries suffer from red tape in many areas, including inflexible workplace relations laws, restrictive food handling and labelling regulations, and liquor licensing.

This paper inquires into the state-based liquor licensing regulation through a survey of several Australian jurisdictions before providing reform recommendations.

Restrictions on the sale of liquor across most jurisdictions are characterised by several different types of licenses referring to different business activities, as well as complex tiered fee structures ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Several recommendations are made to cut red tape on the sale of alcohol:

  • Streamline and simplify the number of liquor license types (e.g. on premises, off premises, special event) for different business activities to the minimum viable level.
  • Flatten, lower and index both application and renewal fees to ameliorate business uncertainty.
  • Shift liquor licensing resources away from restrictions on potential licensees prior to trade, towards greater enforcement of breaches once they have been committed.

Reducing liquor licensing red tape must be coupled with a broader agenda to cut red tape across the Australian economy.

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