THE QHA CAN ASSIST MEMBERS INVOLVED IN AN OLGR LIQUOR OR GAMING INVESTIGATION. QHA STAFF CAN PROVIDE SUPPORT TO UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS, COMPLIANCE OBLIGATIONS AND THE NATURE OF ANY ALLEGATIONS.
Matters of non-compliance under the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld) and the Gaming Machine Act 1991 (Qld), or incidents at a premises are often brought to the regulators attention through Queensland Police reports, through a direct OLGR audit and inspection of venues, and through complaints.
Investigations and what to expect when you get inspected
There currently appears to be an increase in the level of audit, monitoring and investigation of Queensland’s licensed premises. Inspections are sometimes conducted with officers from the Queensland Police Service, who are also investigators under the Liquor Act. In some areas police may also attend licensed premises to undertake liquor inspections without OLGR compliance officers. Investigations are evidence gathering exercises, the purpose of which are to inform and determine any possible penalties applicable to the licensee. These can range from warnings to prosecutions. Hoteliers and their staff should be prepared and confident in their ability to demonstrate compliance whenever they are inspected by licensing officers or Queensland police.
Assessing undue intoxication
The core principle in relation to the responsible service of alcohol is assessing a patron based on observing a combination of indicators, including speech, balance, coordination and behaviour. These behavioural indicia are the determining factors for refusal of service and may or may not be due to the effects of liquor consumption. Identifying a person as unduly intoxicated is a responsibility for licensees and their staff particularly under section 156 of the Liquor Act, which relates to liquor being prohibited to certain persons, namely: minors, disorderly and unduly intoxicated patrons, who must not be served, supplied or be allowed to consume liquor.
Reasonable belief for undue intoxication
A person may be considered to be unduly intoxicated if they show signs of undue intoxication and there are reasonable grounds for believing this is the result of consuming liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance. ‘Reasonable grounds for belief’ is what a reasonable person would believe in the given situation. Speaking to a person about the possible causes for their signs of intoxication is important in meeting your obligations under the Liquor Act. It also ensures that you do not unlawfully discriminate against a person with mental or physical impairment/s.
During investigations, an OLGR investigator or inspector may need to interview relevant people which may include the licensee, managers and staff. Interviews can be relatively informal but can also be a formal recorded interview. OLGR will contact the person to be interviewed during investigations. This can be done verbally, in writing or using both methods. The investigator will propose a mutually convenient date, time and place for the interview to be held.
Where possible, interviews will be held at OLGR premises where private interview rooms and recording equipment are available or a Queensland Police station. A reasonable time will be provided to allow for the person to make arrangements for a support person or legal representative to be present during questioning.
Answering compliance interview questions
A person being interviewed must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to answer questions asked by an OLGR investigator. Under section 183 of the Liquor Act an investigator has the power to require a person to answer questions if they believe (on reasonable grounds) that the person may be able to provide information relevant to the enforcement of the Liquor Act. Similar provisions appear in the Gaming Act.
Under the respective Acts, a reasonable excuse for a person to not answer a question is if the person could incriminate themselves by answering that question.
Without reasonable excuse, failing to answer interview questions is an offence, with applicable penalties under the Act.
Providing legal representatives and support persons
The person being interviewed has a legal right to have a legal representative and/or support person attend their interview. The details of these people should be provided to the OLGR investigator prior to the interview date. A legal representative can provide legal advice and support to the person being interviewed.
A support person can support the person being interviewed but must not answer questions on behalf of the person being interviewed, or become involved in the interview in any way.
How the QHA can help
Any QHA member involved in an OLGR investigation or requested to attend a compliance interview is encouraged to contact the QHA prior to the date. QHA staff may be able to assist in the role of a support person and preparation for interview. Further, there are a number of QHA Partners who can provide legal representation and advice, and are subject experts in licensing compliance and legal matters.