Pilbara liquor restrictions stopped on appeal

Peter de KruijffPilbara News
Most Pilbara towns will avoid further liquor restrictions after a successful appeal by licence holders.
Camera IconMost Pilbara towns will avoid further liquor restrictions after a successful appeal by licence holders. Credit: Getty Images

Pilbara licensees have won an appeal to stop blanket liquor restrictions being rolled out across the region.

The Director of Liquor Licensing decreed earlier this year that takeaway alcohol sales would be limited to one bottle of spirits or one carton of full-strength beer and six bottles of wine per day in every town in the Pilbara.

About 20 liquor licence holders challenged the restrictions which had been due to start at the end of March.

The start of the restrictions were put on hold until after the appeal which was finalised last week.

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The West Australian understands the ruling opens the door for restrictions to go ahead in Port Hedland but not for the licensees in other Pilbara towns who challenged.

WA Police had originally put together a submission several years ago asking for tougher restrictions in Port Hedland and it was not until later the request was rolled into a bid from the Police Commissioner for uniform region-wide rules.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said it was unclear what would happen to licensees outside of Port Hedland who had not been a part of the challenge.

“The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor is now faced with the prospect of imposing additional restrictions on some venues while others will be able to trade as per usual,” he said.

“This is an absurd situation that is clearly unworkable, impractical and difficult to enforce. Moreover, such restrictions will simply not achieve their original stated objective – to reduce alcohol related harm.”

A Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries spokesman said it would “consider the implications of the Liquor Commission’s decision and the impacts for restrictions in the wider Pilbara region”.

Liquor Stores Association WA chief executive Peter Peck said the focus should now be on implementing a banned drinkers register which industry and the McGowan Government were both on board with.

Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia said it would work with peak bodies and police to roll out a trial of the register.

“Advice of the Director of Liquor Licensing, licensees, Police and UWA will be sought on progressing the initiative,” he said.

West Pilbara Liquor Accord chairman Bart Parsons, who was one of the licensees who appealed, welcomed the decision and said the ruling would allow authorities to shift their focus to implementing a trial of the banned drinkers register in the Pilbara.

“I very much welcome the Minister and the Department to sit down and let’s really discuss the (banned drinkers register), I think that’s very important,” he said.

“Instead of appealing, talk to us about what will actually work.”

“We’re quite happy for Karratha as a geographical region because we don’t have some of the problems I think other places have.”

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