The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed news of a possible review of the Newcastle liquor laws, after hosting a meeting between NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello and key business stakeholders in Newcastle today.
With legislative amendments to state liquor laws currently under consideration, Mr Dominello has taken a close interest in the future of the ‘Newcastle Model’ of city-specific restrictions in the light of the city’s changing night economy and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the hospitality sector.
He met today at the Hunter Business Chamber with owners and operators of licensed premises as well as representatives of the Australian Hotels Association, Independent Bars Association, Newcastle Tourism Industry Group, Liquor and Gaming NSW and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
The Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp and One Nation Upper House MP Mark Latham, who sat on the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night Time Economy, also attended the meeting.
“Mr Dominello told media and stakeholders that he accepted arguments that the city’s nightlife culture had changed for the better since the restrictions were introduced in 2008 and believed a review of the lockout laws was warranted,” Mr Hawes said.
“It is very encouraging that he has taken a special interest in this issue and come up to meet and speak directly with stakeholders.”
Mr Hawes said the small bars and revamped hotels that had helped cultivate the city’s new night-time culture were being hindered by restrictions on trading hours and service of alcohol that affected the viability of their businesses.
“It is not reasonable for a small bar to not be able to serve cocktails after 10pm, or to have to call last drinks at 11.30pm, when that is their prime trading period,” Mr Hawes said.
“A lot of these businesses were trading on slim margins before coronavirus and the pandemic-related restrictions have made things much worse.
“The city has demonstrated that it can change for the better and the blanket punitive approach of the Newcastle Model is no longer warranted. As Newcastle continues to position itself as a tourist destination and event city, it needs a vibrant, diverse and mature night economy.’’