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Newcastle venues welcome relaxed liquor licence conditions

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A number of venues in Newcastle, including the King Street Hotel and Finnegan’s, have welcomed an extension to their relaxed liquor licence conditions.

Fifteen establishments, who participated in a trial examining options for boosting the city’s nightlife, will continue to operate with the removal of 1am and 1.30am lockout restrictions and the easing of restraints on the types of drinks that may be served.

The move takes in eight premises in the CBD as well as another seven in Hamilton.

“Newcastle has changed significantly since 2008 and adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to liquor laws in the city was an outdated approach,” Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp said.

“I’m pleased to see venues with a good compliance history that promote patron safety are being rewarded with the eased conditions from the trial applied to their licenses.

“This will further help grow the night-time economy in Newcastle.”

The area had been subject to more stringent trading conditions than those typically found elsewhere in NSW.

Stage one of the Newcastle Liquor Licence Trial started in October 2020 and looked at the effect of eased licensing conditions in some low-risk venues such as small bars and restaurants.

The second phase, however, began 12 months later and evaluated the effectiveness of additional relaxed rules in hotels, general bars and public entertainment establishments, involving 21 venues.

After carefully considering the findings of the trial, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) decided participating establishments could apply to have their liquor licence conditions relaxed permanently.

And, because the results were not uniform, all proposals submitted to the ILGA were considered on a case-by-case basis, with a strong focus on compliance, safety and avoiding any unacceptable risks to the community.

“Newcastle is home to an incredible collection of venues, artists and nightlife businesses that make it such a vibrant place after dark,” Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, and Minister for Jobs and Tourism John Graham said.

“It’s good to see those evidence-based changes, which will allow the city to remain vibrant and safe later into the night.”

Some of the venues applied for relaxed conditions to be removed from their licences permanently but were not fully-approved.

During the trial, most participating premises indicated that the restrictions positively impacted their patronage, business turnover and employment opportunities.

“Relaxing the licence conditions for some establishments supports the evolution of Newcastle’s nightlife into a safe, vibrant, fun and creative environment,” Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said.

“The trial has shown that venues that improve patron safety and take action to reduce alcohol-related violence can have their licence conditions relaxed and contribute to a thriving, safe, inclusive night-time economy for everyone.”

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