Last call on NSW’s archaic liquor laws

Budding entrepreneurs hoping to open their own bar in Sydney may find their path made a little easier if new proposals by Sydney Lord Mayor and MP Clover Moore get off the ground.

Moore, an independent MP in the NSW Parliament, has introduced a bill into Parliament that would make it much easier and cheaper to open a small bar in the state.

If passed, the laws would revolutionise NSW’s archaic liquor licensing laws, which effectively ensure only large licensed venues and restaurants are viable by charging thousands of dollars for licenses, enabling alcohol only to be served with meals, and forcing new license applicants to carry out expensive social impact studies.

Under the Moore proposal, which is currently being considered by the major parties, it would be possible to obtain a small bar licence for just $500, provided the proposed venue seats 120 people or less. The applicant would not need to conduct a social impact study and would be free to serve drinks without a meal.

The changes have already attracted significant backing from Sydneysiders. A Facebook group started to support the laws called “we want funky little pubs in Sydney” has already attracted more than 4500 followers.

A change to liquor licence laws is needed if Sydney is to continue to hold itself out as an international tourist destination, Sydney Chamber of Commerce executive director Patricia Forsyth says.

For all Sydney’s size and vibrancy during the day, parts still close down at night and having more small bars in the city would help keep the energy alive into the evening,” Forsyth says.

As well as reducing barriers for entry for people wishing to start new bars, the new laws would also create new opportunities for existing coffee shops in the Sydney CBD.

“In other cities, places that are coffee shops in the day often become wine bars at night, but in Sydney many coffee shops are closed at four in the afternoon after the office workers start going home, so it would be good for businesses, visitors and residents if we could reverse that trend here,” Forsyth says.


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