New Liquor Bills Introduced to NT Parliament

Friday 9 February 2018 @ 10.04 a.m. | Legal Research

On 7 February 2018, the Hon Natasha Fyles introduced to NT House of Assembly, two new Bills which aim to re-establish the NT Liquor Commission, and also make related amendments to the Liquor Act [1979] (the Act).

The newly-introduced Bills are:

  • Liquor Commission Bill 2018 (Bill No 41 of 2018); and
  • Liquor Legislation Amendment (Licensing) Bill 2018 (Bill No 42 of 2018).

Both Bills have now passed the House of Assembly 8 February 2018.


Speaking about the Bills in a Media Release, Ms Fyles said:

“These are the first in a suite of reforms to tackle alcohol related crime and violence in the Territory … This was a key recommendation of the recent Alcohol Policy and Legislation Review (the Riley Review).”

Ms Fyles went on to say that Territorians deserve safe communities and the Territory Government is developing strong laws to deliver that:

 “It is not acceptable for Territorians to be paying upward of $640 million dollars a year on alcohol related harm and we are developing a clear and coordinated approach to tackle this.”

About the Review

In April 2017, members of an Independent Expert Advisory Panel chaired by the former NT Justice Trevor Riley (who retired in 2016), were announced along with the Terms of Reference under which they would conduct the Review.

The Review undertook wide public consultation on all aspects of the current alcohol policies and legislation together with the [Liquor] Act, with the objective of the review to provide recommendations to Government on evidence based best practice alcohol harm prevention and management initiatives.

Major recommendations of the Riley Review included:

  • that the NT Liquor Act be rewritten;
  • immediate moratorium on takeaway liquor licences;
  • reduce grocery stores selling alcohol by phasing out store licences;
  • floor price/volumetric tax on alcohol products designed to reduce availability of cheap alcohol;
  • shift away from floor size restrictions for liquor outlets and repeal 400-square-metre restrictions;
  • reinstating an independent Liquor Commission;
  • legislating to make it an offence for someone to operate a boat or other vessel while over the limit;
  • establish an alcohol research body in the NT; and
  • trial a safe spaces program where people can manage their consumption and seek intervention.

The final version of the Review was released in October 2017.

The Proposed Legislation

Under the proposed Liquor Commission Bill, the Liquor Commission will:

  • be an independent statutory authority, consisting of a minimum of four well qualified members, led by a Chairperson;
  • be referred all decisions concerning new licenses, varying the conditions of licences, substitutions of premises, material alterations of premises, and disciplinary matters;
  • convene public hearings to provide greater transparency to the community and to increase community involvement in the decision-making process; and
  • make decisions on the basis of a new public interest and community impact test.

A new Public Interest and Community Impact Test is contained in the Liquor Amendment (Licensing) Bill and it is also proposed to formalises the moratorium on new takeaway liquor licences currently included in the Liquor Regulations [1981].

Commenting further on the impact of the new Legislation, Ms Fyles said:

“Under these changes the decision-making under the Liquor Act will now require a public interest and community impact test … The Riley Review made it absolutely clear that the public interest must be considered for applications under the Liquor Act because of the harm that can be caused by alcohol.”

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Riley review: Floor price on alcohol, 400sqm rule to be scrapped in wake of NT alcohol policy paper –

Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review

Riley Review

Tackling Alcohol Related Crime and Violence: NT Liquor Commission Introduced to Parliament – NT Media Release

Liquor Commission Bill 2018 and Liquor Legislation Amendment (Licensing) Bill 2018 (NT) available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.

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