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Liquor licence relief for NSW businesses

By Andy Young, TheShout

The NSW Government this morning announced that it was waiving a wide range of licence fees as part of its economic stimulus package to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall the measures will see up to 200,000 licence holders across the state benefit with no licence fee payments this year, with the Government saying the move will deliver close to $50million worth of fee waivers for 12 months.

As well as tradies and construction workers the fee waivers are also in place for the hospitality and entertainment industries.

Most licensees will have their annual liquor licence base fee and trading hours risk loading fee waived for 12 months (2020-2021 fee period). These licensees will receive a $0 invoice. Compliance risk loadings will not be waived, but will be deferred and included as part of 2021-2022 annual liquor licence fees.

Licences eligible for the automatic fee waiver include:

  • small bar licence
  • microbreweries and small distilleries licence
  • on-premises licence
  • club licence
  • hotel licence
  • producer/wholesaler licence
  • limited licences
  • general bar licence
  • packaged liquor licence (if three or less outlets are owned by the same licensee or business).

Bottle shops and home delivery businesses (packaged liquor licences) with four or more outlets owned by the same licensee or business are not eligible for fee waiver assistance at this time.

New liquor licence application fees and pro-rata liquor licence fees will be waived in full ($0) for 12 months from 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 for affected businesses.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW welcomed the move, with CEO John Whelan telling TheShout: “AHA NSW welcomes the State Government’s waiving of licence fees – including trading hour loadings for the 2020 period,” AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said

“We recently made this request to the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and today’s announcement provides some relief for hotels during our industry’s most difficult period.

“We certainly appreciate the role played by our Minister, Victor Dominello, in securing this for the NSW hotel industry.

“Hotels are still burdened by many fixed costs during this closure period, including fixed energy charges and insurance. The waiving of fees rather than a deferral is particularly welcome as it means these fees won’t join a long list of debt already accumulated.”

Retail Drinks Australia also welcomed the news, with CEO Julie Ryan, saying: “Today’s announcement from the NSW Government to waive liquor licence fees for a number of packaged liquor licences is a positive outcome for the State’s retail liquor industry and one which Retail Drinks had strongly advocated for.

“This initiative will provide significant financial assistance to these businesses who are facing extremely challenging conditions as a result of the pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whilst licensees owning four or more licences are currently excluded from the automatic fee waiver, Retail Drinks is working closely with Liquor & Gaming NSW to design a streamlined and simple application process so that these businesses also affected by financial hardship can apply for fee relief.

“Retail Drinks will continue to advocate for further fee relief for any members not currently eligible under this tranche of measures.”

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