The SA Government’s response to the Independent Review of Liquor Licensing Act has yielded mixed results for small hospitality operators and is likely to increase red tape, according to industry association Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).

The Government’s response, which was handed down today, rejected industry calls to allow restaurants to serve alcohol without a meal, while exempting venues with BYO facilities from late night trading fees.

R&CA CEO John Hart said while the Government has supported some common sense changes, others are likely to create an unfair playing field.

“It’s pleasing to see that restaurants and caterers will be recognised with their own licence class, and liquor licence applications will be streamlined. Reducing the ability of local councils to object to liquor licenses when planning approvals have also been received will reduce lengthy delays in opening.

“However, not allowing restaurants to serve alcohol without a meal reduces the flexibility of operators to meet market demand. This is one of the fundamental changes that would deliver the biggest benefit to cafes and restaurants, while encouraging a thriving dining culture.

“We recognise the need to protect the public and ensure these venues do not inadvertently turn into nightclubs late at night. But requiring an authorisation to serve alcohol without a meal creates red tape for what is essentially a glass of wine at the end of the night or a precursor to a meal somewhere else.

“Breath testing Responsible Persons will also add costs and impede business operations. A sommelier who conducts wine tastings, for example, would not be able to taste the wine – a key offering for many establishments. We don’t want to place a handbrake on hospitality.

“The Review started a much needed conversation about how we manage liquor in the state, and the industry has been widely consulted. But we need to be mindful not to unduly add further hurdles for operators in an already soft market,” Hart said.

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