Liquor retailer returns fire

TASMANIA'S largest bottle-shop owner, Woolworths, has hit back at moves to introduce more ``red tape'' designed to reduce harmful levels of drinking.

Recommendations that have received broad support from respondents to a state government review of liquor licensing legislation include:

- Banning alcohol advertising near schools and areas frequented by children or promotions targeting young people

- Requiring applications for a liquor licence to include a community impact statement.

- Tightening the definition of a ``fit and proper person'' suitable to hold a liquor licence.

- Barring under 18s from serving alcohol.

- Providing free water at bars and clubs.

Woolworths, which owns 28 stores operating under the BWS brand, has instead called for less ``unnecessary red tape and anti-competitive measures''.

The supermarket giant warned the proposals for tighter regulations put forward in the government's discussion paper on liquor licensing would add significantly to the cost of doing business.

Woolworths wants shorter assessment periods for liquor licence applications and rejected the need for applications to include community impact statements, which it argues could cost up to $100,000 to prepare.

Tasmania Police called for the limits on alcohol advertising in schools while the Health Department went further suggesting a ban should be extended to all public places such as bus malls.

That idea was also questioned by Woolworths, which urged the proposal to be subject to a cost-benefit analysis.

Police also called for members of declared criminal organisations such as some bikie gangs, to be excluded and police checks be required for people wishing to hold a liquor licence.

In its submissions Wine Tasmania and the Brewers Association of Tasmania said the industry was already subject to national advertising codes.

The Salvation Army was also among the 16 stakeholders to make a submission urging the review to focus on harm minimisation.

It calls for employees aged under 18 to be barred from serving alcohol. 

In response, the Youth Network of Tasmania suggested teenagers should be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks in restaurants, but not in bottle shops or nightclubs where they would not be allowed in as patrons. 

The government is due to release details on proposed amendments for feedback in March or April, but the review is likely to be stalled by the coming state election.

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