Justice Home > Media & news

Learn how our essential services will continue to operate as we respond 'Together against COVID-19'.


​For the record - 'Small bars continue to grow as drinking landscape recovers from lockouts​'

Issued: 2 August 2016

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald's business section on Monday 1 August 2016 titled Small bars continue to grow as drinking landscape recovers from lockouts has numerous errors.

The below summary quotes each inaccurate section of the report and responds with the correct information.    

1.    "As part of the statutory law, the laws have to be reviewed every three years. This is the standard with all new liquor licences"

  • There is no legislated requirement for a review of new liquor licence laws every three years. The small bar review is a specific requirement under the Liquor Act 2007, and is required to be conducted after 1 January 2016.

2.    "A general hotel small bar licence – 120 person – that services mixed drinks…"

  • General bars don't have a maximum patron limit prescribed under that licence. General bars may have a patron limit imposed via the local council Development Approval process.

3.    "The original explosion in small bars can be traced back to 2008 when the City of Sydney Council approved the Small Bars and Restaurants Bill…"

  • The Liquor Amendment (Small Bars and Restaurants) Bill was introduced into the NSW Parliament by Ms Clover Moore, Member for Sydney in 2007. The Bill was not passed by the Parliament. The Parliament, rather than local councils, is responsible for considering liquor licensing legislation in NSW. The NSW Government's small bars liquor legislation was passed by the Parliament in March 2013.

4.    "In 2011, 70 small bar licences were approved and at that stage licences could cover up to 120 patrons, with the approval process taking up to 80 days and costing $500 … The new legislation has seen the patronage cut in half, the approval process taking up to 120 days, if not longer, with the cost being reduced to $350"

  • Small bar liquor licences have only been available since 1 July 2013. Small bars operating prior to that date would likely to have done so under a general bar licence. Bars that wish to serve more than 60 patrons can apply for a general bar licence. 

5.    "The lockout laws have prevented new bars from opening in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross/Darlinghurst, which are the so called problem areas due to a licence freeze in these areas"

  • Small bar licences can be granted (i.e. new small bars established) in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross/Darlinghurst as they are exempt from the liquor licence freeze. 

6.    "If small bars were allowed to operate later, most patrons would probably happily finish their evening in a small bar…"

  • As noted in the article, small bar licensees in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross can apply to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to extend their liquor trading hours until 3am. Extended liquor trading until 5am is available for small bars elsewhere.