NSW govt cracks down on online booze sales

The NSW government is cracking down on online alcohol sales with new obligations for same-day delivery to ensure minors and intoxicated people aren’t getting booze.

The proposed reforms will consider creating a range of new offences including supplying alcohol to intoxicated people, failing to verify the age of online customers and delivering outside bottle shop trading hours.

NSW Customer Service minister Victor Dominello said in 2017/18 online alcohol sales in Australia were worth about four per cent of total liquor sales and annual growth in online sales between 2018 and 2023 is expected to double.

“Online alcohol sales have grown significantly in recent years, in line with customer demand for other food and beverage delivery services,” Mr Dominello said in a statement on Thursday.

“COVID-19 restrictions on pubs and clubs have also boosted this segment of the market.”

The reforms will target the risks of express delivery including alcohol being delivered to minors and intoxicated people, with new obligations imposed for same-day delivery providers.

These obligations will ensure deliverers receive training in responsible delivery of alcohol.

“For the first time, people selling alcohol for same-day delivery will have an explicit obligation to verify that the person placing the order is over 18 years,” Dominello said.

“In a world where you can now get alcohol delivered to your door in under 30 minutes, we need to ensure best practice harm minimisation is adhered to in all circumstances.”

Retail Drinks Australia has been working with the NSW Government on the proposed reforms to ensure the changes are fit for purpose

“We are pleased that the proposed reforms already largely reflect many of the provisions within the Retail Drinks Code and we look forward to providing feedback to the NSW Government on how the Code and the regulations can work effectively in tandem to provide a robust framework for responsible alcohol delivery across the sector,” Julie Ryan CEO Retail Drinks Australia told Inside FMCG.

In January, Retail Drinks launched an Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct to advise of best-practice in the online alcohol delivery space.

“Retail Drinks’ Online Code, which covers more than 80 per cent of all online alcohol deliveries in Australia, already prohibits same day unattended alcohol deliveries, as well as any deliveries to minors or intoxicated persons,” Ryan said.

Signatories to the Code, which includes both retailers and delivery agents, have safeguards embedded in their apps, procedures and systems which “specifically prevent alcohol deliveries to minors or intoxicated persons”, she explained.

Speaking to Inside FMCG in September, Ryan stated that bricks and mortar stores require a licenc to sell liquor and all team members doing so require an RSA. However, a licence that deals with online sales only does not require all team members to be RSA trained as they are not all present at the time of sale.

When it comes to third party delivery companies, such as Uber Eats, they are not required to hold a license at all.

Liquor and Gaming has been working with the industry to enforce existing laws and ensure unlicensed providers can’t post alcohol delivery services online.

The changes are part of the Berejiklian government’s proposed 24-hour economic reforms which are open for public consultation. 

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