The Coalition and Labor have teamed up in the NSW Legislative Council this afternoon to pass a bill that waters down the state’s ‘three strikes’ laws.
The laws were designed to keep patrons safe and punish venues that repeatedly breach NSW liquor laws.
The most startling change is re-structuring the three strikes disciplinary scheme so breaches (or strikes) apply to a venue’s licensee or managers rather than to the licence holder – or owner - themselves. This undermines the deterrence value of having the person with the most significant financial interest in the responsible for compliance with the law.
The Coalition Government claimed the changes were based on the finding of the Callinan Review however the three strikes policy was not subject to that review.
Additional advice provided by Mr Callinan to the Government has not been released despite calls from the Greens, the media and community groups to do so.
Greens Liquor and Gaming spokesperson Justin Field said,” The changes to the three-strikes laws risk the big pub barons scapegoating their employees when it comes to avoiding responsibility for compliance with liquor laws.
“It’s distasteful to witness both the Coalition and Labor place vested interests over what is best and fair for our community. The alcohol industry is calling the shots on the three strikes changes and it will only embolden them to ask for more.
“We expect the liquor, gambling and racing industries to keep pushing for fewer safeguards and less accountability. What we don’t expect – or accept – is for the Government and Opposition to roll over and give in to them.
“The public would be disgusted to think that the advice relied on by Government to make major changes to such an important set of laws would be hidden from public view and from MPs before they are expected to vote on them
“This Government is developing a reputation for secrecy and avoiding scrutiny, particularly where the interests of the clubs, alcohol and gaming industries are concerned,” he said.