The Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response – Permanency) Amendment Bill 2021 (COVID-19 Permanency Bill) makes permanent certain aspects of the temporary laws made in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. These changes include amendments to the Queensland Liquor Act.
FARE lodged a submission to this inquiry opposing the Bill and our CEO Caterina Giorgi also spoke to the inquiry’s Public Hearing. FARE opposed the Bill on two grounds, firstly that the measures were always intended to be a temporary emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, that turning cafes and restaurants into bottle shops, increases the density of alcoholic product outlets, increasing the delivery of alcohol into homes, and the risk of alcohol harm.
The Queensland State Development and Regional Industries Committee published its inquiry report into the ‘COVID-19 Emergency Response — Permanency Amendment Bill 2021’. In assessing the human rights compatibility of the Bill, the Committee said alcohol remains a significant contributor to family and domestic violence in Australia.
It said that easy access to alcohol threatens the mental and physical health and safety of children, families and people who use alcohol. The Queensland Human Rights Act recognises that changes to Laws that increase accessibility to alcohol, (especially alcohol use in private homes), limit the rights of children and families and the right to security and liberty of the person.
In this case, the Committee concluded that this Bill would limit the protected rights by facilitating access to a drug that is a significant driver of domestic and family violence. It would make it easier for alcohol to be supplied directly to private homes, by increasing the number of outlets allowed to supply alcohol directly to peoples’ homes.
FARE will continue to oppose the relaxation of liquor licencing laws, (including on human rights grounds), and advocate for common sense measures to address the burgeoning online sales and delivery of alcohol.