THE Ararat Hotel has been temporarily closed following the suspension of the licensee's liquor licence.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation decided to disqualify the licensee from holding a liquor licence for a period of five years following a request by Victoria Police for the Commission to investigate.
Senior Sergeant Damian Ferrari, of Ararat, said Victoria Police requested the Commission investigate the venue following a number of assaults and alleged licence breaches at the venue.
"There had been a build up of incidents over a period of time, so of course what we do is keep a closer check on that," he said.
"In a lot of cases these are assaults where we've actually got victims, so as far as I'm concerned that worsens the offending."
VCGLR director compliance Adam Ockwell said the Commission's decision was supported by 15 separate allegations against the licensee of breach of licence or breach of the Liquor Control Reform Act.
The Commission's decision was effective February 13.
"That person cannot re-open the venue and supply liquor, nor can he hold a liquor licence for any other licensed premises, or be involved in the operation of any other licensed premises for a period of five years," Mr Ockwell said.
In giving reasons for its decision, the Commission stated that:
"The risk of harm to which the public is exposed through the Licensee's operation of the Licence has included exposure to physical assaults, exposing minors to environments where liquor is consumed, supplying liquor to intoxicated persons and permitting intoxicated persons to remain on the Premises...
If the Licensee demonstrates an inability to comply with the conditions of the Licence and to effectively manage the Premises, this gives evidence to support the argument that the Licensee is not a suitable person to hold the Licence...
Having regard to the harms represented by the particulars which the Commission has found proven, and the Licensee's failure to prevent these from occurring between 6 July 2018 and 6 September 2019, it follows that the Director is unable to manage the Premises in a manner which minimises harm. The Director is responsible for the Licensee's unsatisfactory operation of the Premises, and it is therefore appropriate to consider whether he should also be disqualified..."
"This decision demonstrates the VCGLR's commitment to regulating Victoria's gambling and liquor industries to minimise harm so that Victorians and visitors can enjoy safe and responsible gambling and liquor environments," Mr Ockwell said.
However, the hotel itself is set to re-open under a different licensee.
"The name of the owner of the property, Willfamco Pty Ltd, has been endorsed on the licence," Mr Ockwell said.
"Willfamco Pty Ltd is entitled to carry on the business under the licence and is entitled to supply liquor at the premises as from the date of the Commission's decision which was 13 February 2020."
Senior Sergeant Ferrari called the outcome a "timely reminder" for liquor licence holders
"(Licensees should) check their licence conditions and if they're unsure about them contact us and we'll work with them."
The Ararat Advertiser attempted to contact the licensee but did not receive a response.
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