Alcohol laws of Australia

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Alcohol laws of Australia are laws that regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The legal drinking age is 18 throughout Australia. The minimum age for the purchase of alcoholic products in Australia is 18. A licence is required to produce or sell alcohol.

In most of Australia, an alcoholic beverage is one of greater than 1.15% alcohol by volume, but in Queensland and Victoria it is one of greater than 0.5% alcohol by volume. Swan Light, a very low-alcohol beer (0.9%) is considered a soft drink in Western Australia, as would a shandy made with low-alcohol beer, whereas kombucha is considered alcoholic in Victoria. For this reason most alcoholic products sold in Australia are labelled with a statement of their alcoholic content if above 0.5%; otherwise, a product labelled "brewed" may contain some alcohol.

Alcohol drinking age[edit]

State/territory Current legal
drinking age
Year adopted Previous legal
drinking
Australian Capital Territory 18 1928[1] Not amended
New South Wales 18 1905[1] 16[2]
Northern Territory 18 1929[1] Not amended
Queensland 18 1974[1] 21
South Australia 18 1971[1] 21 to 20 in 1968
Tasmania 18 1973 21 to 20 in 1967
Victoria 18 1906[1] 26
Western Australia 18 1970[1] 21

Alcohol laws by state or territory[edit]

Australian Capital Territory[edit]

During Canberra's early years, alcohol was banned in the Australian Capital Territory, with King O'Malley in 1911 being a sponsor of the unpopular alcohol ban.[3]. Prohibition was partial, since possession of alcohol purchased outside of the Territory remained legal and the few pubs that had existing licences could continue to operate. The federal Parliament repealed the laws after residents of the Federal Capital Territory voted for the end of them in a 1928 plebiscite.[4]

New South Wales[edit]

Alcohol may not be sold in New South Wales (NSW) without a licence or permit being obtained from the State government.[5]

In NSW, alcohol may not be sold to a person who is under 18 years of age unless accompanied by a guardian (or spouse) and for consumption during a meal, and minors must not be on licensed premises (i.e. premises on which alcohol may be sold or consumed) unless accompanied by an adult or in other limited circumstances.[6] The designation of restricted area (18+ only) and supervised area (minors must be accompanied by adults) must be displayed on the door or window facing outwards. Before 1905 the drinking age was 16.

There are several categories of licences available. The most common are:[5]

  • packaged liquor licence, which permit the sale of liquor to customers to take away from retail liquor stores and supermarkets. They must close at 11 apm at the latest.
  • general licence, which permit the sale of liquor to customers for drinking on the premises, and to take away. These are used by pubs, hotels and taverns.
  • BYO permit, which allow customers to bring their own liquor and drink it on the premises. These are obtained by restaurants and clubs that do not intend to hold a liquor licence, or do not sell and supply liquor themselves.

Other specialised licences are: full club licence, renewable limited club licence, temporary limited licence, renewable limited licence, restricted club licence, pre-retail licence (for wholesalers, producers, brewers and liquor importers), and vigneron's licence.

Some local councils have passed by-laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on streets within their areas, especially the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, which stretches from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, to the end of George Street. In other parts of Sydney, many suburbs still have similar 'alcohol-free zones', notably the immediate streets near railway stations, all main roads in Hurstville, Bankstown, Chatswood, and the City of Willoughby. Most of these bans last for four years and can be renewed each September of the four-year cycle under council discretion. Breach of the by-law can result in confiscation and disposal of open bottles of alcohol; however no fine can be issued.[7]

In a designated area within the Sydney CBD, there is a 1:30 am lockout, meaning no patrons can enter bars after that point, and no existing patrons can re-enter after that time, while last drinks are at 3 am. There are restrictions on what can be served after midnight. For example, liquor cannot be served "neat".[8]

In NSW, if a minor is caught with alcohol in a public place it can be confiscated and guardians notified of the offence, a maximum fine of $20 may occur. The state does allow a minor to consume alcohol for religious purposes, for example Holy Communion.

New South Wales alcohol laws only allow the following identification as legally accepted proof-of-age in licensed premises:

  • current Australian driver licence
  • A drivers licence issued in any country other than Australia that clearly has the date of birth in English
  • current Victorian learner driver permit card
  • current passport (Australian or foreign)
  • current NSW proof-of-age card

Queensland[edit]

In Queensland, the main legislation is the Liquor Act 1992, which abolished the Licensing Commission and Court, with decision-making by Chief Executive and appeals to a Tribunal. There was a reduction of licence types to seven and permits to five.[9] In 1997, annual licence fees charged on liquor sales were abolished.[9] In 2012, the Queensland Liquor and Gaming Commission was abolished and replaced with a single Commissioner.[9]

It is legal for a person under 18 years to drink alcohol within private premises, with the supervision of a parent/guardian. It is illegal for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase alcohol, or to have alcohol bought for them in public places, or to attend a licensed venue without parental supervision (there are some special circumstances). It is illegal for licensed premises to sell alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years alcohol.[10]

Service hours were restricted from 1 July 2016. The sale or service of liquor must stop at 2am state-wide, except in “safe night precincts” where alcohol can be served until 3am. In all venues, the sale or service of rapid intoxication drinks must end at midnight.[11]

South Australia[edit]

In South Australia, the main legislation which controls the sale and consumption of alcohol is the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (SA). The principal aim of the Act is to minimise the harm associated with the consumption of alcohol in South Australia. The drinking age was lowered from 21 to 20 in 1968 and by 1971 South Australia had a drinking age of 18.[12][13] Between 1836 and 1839, liquor licences were granted by the Governor.

On 21 February 1839, Act No. 1 of 1839 became the first liquor licensing legislation in the Province, including three licenses:

  • General Publican's Licence
  • Wine, Ale, Beer and other Malt Liquors Licence
  • Storekeeper's Licence

In 1869, a Storekeeper's Colonial Wine Licence was introduced.[14]

Victoria[edit]

Alcohol may not be sold in Victoria without a licence or permit being obtained from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation,[15] under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.[16]

There are several categories of licences available,[17] the most common ones being:

  • packaged liquor licence, which permit the sale of liquor to customers to take away from retail liquor stores and supermarkets.
  • general licence, which permit the sale of liquor to customers for drinking on the premises, and to take away. These are used by pubs, hotels and taverns.
  • BYO permit, which allow customers to bring their own liquor and drink it on the premises. These are obtained by restaurants and clubs that do not intend to hold a liquor licence.

Other specialised licences are: full club licence, renewable limited club licence, temporary limited licence, renewable limited licence, restricted club licence, pre-retail licence (for wholesalers, producers, brewers and liquor importers), and vigneron's licence.

Some local government by-laws prohibit the consumption of alcohol on designated streets, parks, and other areas within their jurisdictions.[18]

Persons under 18 years cannot drink alcohol on licensed premises under any circumstances. Until 13 September 2018, licensees could supply liquor to a minor for consumption on a licensed premises as part of a meal if the minor was accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse,[19] and minors could not be on licensed premises (i.e. premises on which alcohol may be sold or consumed) unless accompanied by an adult or in other limited circumstances.[20]

If a minor is caught with alcohol in public it can be confiscated and guardians notified of the offence, and a fine may be imposed.[21] Previously, minors were allowed to drink alcohol if it was given to them by anyone on private property, for example at a party. Since late 2011 parental permission is required to be given to any adult before a minor is served alcohol, under a penalty of $7,000.[22]

Victorian alcohol laws only allow the following identification as legally accepted proof-of-age in licensed premises:

  • current Australian driver licence
  • current Victorian learner driver permit card
  • current passport (Australian or foreign)
  • current Keypass identity card
  • current proof-of-age card from any Australian state or territory.[23]

In Victoria, fully licensed drivers of motor vehicles must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) below 0.05%. Learner and probationary licensed drivers must not consume any alcohol before driving (i.e. the BAC must be zero).

Until May 2015, there was a single area in Melbourne, encompassing some or all of Balwyn, Camberwell, Canterbury, Glen Iris, Box Hill, Mont Albert, and Surrey Hills, that had the status of a "dry-area", where a mandatory vote was required by all local citizens before a liquor licence was granted within the area. This requirement has now been reduced,[24] with voting now only required for the licensing for hotels, pubs, and clubs. There are still no hotels, pubs, or clubs in the area. Before the 2018 state election, the Andrews government indicated that the dry area will be abolished if the government was re-elected,[25] which it was.

Western Australia[edit]

In Western Australia, the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol is regulated by the Liquor Control Act 1988 and the Liquor Control Regulations 1989 which are administered by the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

Before 1970, the drinking age in Western Australia was 21. Today, it is illegal for any person under the age of 18 years to purchase, supply, or drink alcohol on licensed or regulated premises, even if they are with their parents or guardian. The maximum penalty for a minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises is a $2,000 fine. The law does allow a minor to consume alcohol for religious purposes for example Holy Communion. It is an offence in Western Australia for persons of any age to drink in public, such as on the street, park, beach, or as a passenger in a hired vehicle without first having obtained a permit from the appropriate local government authority. Such permits are at the discretion of the local council—some public events have a total ban on alcohol consumption and no permits will be issued.

Western Australian alcohol laws only allow the following identification as legally accepted proof-of-age in licensed premises:[12][26]

  • current Australian driver licence
  • current Western Australian learner driver permit card
  • current passport (Australian or foreign)
  • current Keypass Card
  • current Western Australian Photo Card, issued by the Department of Transport or a proof-of-age card issued by an Australian state or territory government

Under-age drinking at home[edit]

In general minors are allowed to drink at home if the alcohol is provided by a parent or guardian, or with a parent or guardian's permission, and none of people involved are drunk.[27]

Northern Territory[edit]

In the Northern Territory you must be 18 years old to:

  • buy alcohol
  • enter a gaming premises, such as a pokie room or casino
  • serve alcohol in a bar, restaurant or liquor outlet

If you are under 18 years old and caught drinking alcohol in a licensed premise, you will be asked to leave.

You may be charged with an offence if you serve or supply alcohol to someone who is under 18 years old.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Underage Drinking: develop policy options to reverse the present trend facing Australia" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Liquor Act 1898".
  3. ^ "Prohibition in Canberra: King O'Malley and the 'dry' capital". Your Memento. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "New alcohol laws now in place". Archived from the original on 23 February 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  6. ^ Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) s 117.
  7. ^ Hasham, Nicole; Partridge, Emma (17 December 2013). "'Powerless' on booze". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  8. ^ "The boomer supremacy". The Monthly. 1 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "History of liquor regulation".
  10. ^ Secondary supply
  11. ^ "New liquor laws start 1 July 2016 - The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory". statements.qld.gov.au.
  12. ^ a b "Push to lift drink age to 21" (PDF). Sunday Age. 23 March 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2011.
  13. ^ "Alcohol laws". Drug & Alcohol Services SA. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011.
  14. ^ "History of Liquor Licensing in South Australia". Olgc.sa.gov.au. Archived from the original on 19 May 2004. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Liquor and Gambling Regulation in Victoria". Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  16. ^ Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic).
  17. ^ "Types of Liquor Licences". Consumer Affairs Victoria. Archived from the original on 10 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Consumption of alcohol". City of Melbourne.
  19. ^ Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic) s 119.
  20. ^ Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic) s 120.
  21. ^ "Alcohol, teenages parties and the law" (PDF). Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011.
  22. ^ "Teen Drinking Law - The Law".
  23. ^ Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation Proof of Age
  24. ^ "End to dry polls for Melbourne cafes and restaurants". The Age. 13 May 2015.
  25. ^ Lucas, Benjamin Preiss, Clay (4 November 2018). "Labor vows end to dry-zone polls for Melbourne hotels, bars and clubs". The Age.
  26. ^ "Alcohol and the Law". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012.
  27. ^ "Alcohol - Drinking at home". Youth Law Australia. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2019.