Loosening liquor licence restrictions

According to the Productivity Commission, a loosening of the increasingly draconian liquor licensing laws in Australia is needed to help boost national productivity.

The commission’s chairman Peter Harris spoke on the topic at the Melbourne Institute’s economic and social outlook conference, saying that governments removing location and time-based restrictions on businesses would help boost productivity.

“Surely if we are to offer once-in-a-generation tax reform, we should target once-in-a-generation regulation reform along with it?” Harris says. “Our reports have called for the reform of state-based regulations in 2011, 2012, 2013, twice in 2014 and again in 2015. The total response has been the sound of one hand clapping.”

Harris was scathing in his address saying that state-based regulators have been shying away from necessary reform “because it is so hard and so messy”.

“It is what really matters to small and medium-sized enterprises,” he says. “And to tiny start-ups that can’t afford to hire a lawyer or a retired town planner to navigate the maze and gain permission to invest.”

Mr Harris said the liquor licensing restrictions were more about competitors than public safety and suggested that regulators should be able to grant exemptions for innovative businesses.

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