Valley venue fined $5k for breaching Liquor Act 1992

The licensee of the popular Fortitude Valley venue, The GPO Hotel, was fined $5000 for allowing its patrons to free pour their own spirits and consume directly from the bottles.

Appearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 24 February 2020, the defendant, Director of GPO Holdings Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Liquor Act 1992, relating to unacceptable practices and promotions.

Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) Executive Director Mike Sarquis said an investigation began after a patron assaulted a crowd controller at the venue in July 2018.

“After the Queensland Police Service (QPS) alerted us to the assault, we conducted an investigation into the incident to determine how this assault came about,” Mr Sarquis said.

“The investigation included reviewing the measures in place to ensure responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and whether the incident was a result of the licensee failing to provide a safe environment for their patrons and staff.”

The lengthy and extensive investigation revealed that in July and October 2018, the defendant had supplied patrons with bottles of spirits and allowed them to consume from the bottle and self-pour their own drinks.

Mr Sarquis said this complete disregard for RSA practices led to multiple patrons, including the assailant, being supplied and allowed to consume alcohol irresponsibly.

“Serving methods must enable a patron to be aware of how much alcohol they are consuming and allow consumption rates to be controlled,” he said.

“Practices that involve serving of alcohol in ways that encourage free pouring of high strength alcohol are not acceptable.

“There’s no doubt the amount of alcohol the assailant was allowed to consume at the venue could have contributed to the crowd controller being assaulted, which history has shown us can have potentially fatal consequences.

“The man’s high intoxication levels were also confirmed by attending QPS officers, who found he had a breath alcohol concentration of 0.186%.”

Mr Sarquis said there were so many aspects of this case that are extremely disappointing.

“Not only did the licensee fail to ensure the safety of patrons, staff and the community but a patron made the choice to drink to an extent which may have contributed to them making the dangerous choice to assault another,” he said.

“The outcome serves as a reminder of the importance of ensuring the responsible service of alcohol and that all staff are well-trained in key areas of operating a licensed venue.

“While venues have a responsibility to keep patrons safe, it is important for everyone to look after their mates and encourage friends to drink responsibly to ensure our late night entertainment precincts are safe and enjoyable for all.”

For more information on the responsible service of alcohol visit www.business.qld.gov.au/rsa.

Media enquiries: olgrmedia@justice.qld.gov.au