West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is hoping his proposed liquor licensing reforms will help Perth challenge Melbourne’s dominance as the hipster capital of Australia. "We all know hipsters all want to go to Melbourne to have fun,” the Premier said. “We want to ensure Perth competes on a level playing field with Melbourne and that’s what these reforms are doing to do.”
McGowan wants the changes to bring a “more European, sophisticated, discerning” drinking culture to the city. He said he wasn't concerned about the changing enabling binge drinking or anti-social behaviour.
The Premier has long been a supporter of reforming liquor laws, spearheading some of the city's first reforms back in 2006. Then the state minister for education and training, McGowan pushed for a relaxation of hospitality laws, which saw 118 small bars open in Perth.
These new reforms will see the CEO of Tourism WA get an equal say on new liquor license applications, alongside the health minister and police. Restaurants that can fit less than 120 people won't even need to apply for a separate license to serve alcohol. Patrons at small bars will no longer feel they need to finish a bottle of wine either, with taking home leftovers getting easier under the reforms.
Perth pub owners have expressed concerns that the comparably relaxed security and safety laws around pop up bars mean the Government was playing “Russian roulette” with the lives of young Western Australians. McGowan dismissed these concerns, stating smaller venues “attuned to people having a quiet drink” prompted revellers to behave properly.
Given Perth is also facing a severe water shortage, one might wonder whether the city's pressing hipster shortage is the biggest problem that needs to be fixed.
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