Regulatory Framework


A key component for the regulation of the alcohol industry in Western Australia (WA) is contained in the array of legislative and administrative provisions which creates the framework of arrangements for the granting of licenses and ongoing oversight over compliance of licensees operating hotels, liquor outlets and other types of licensed premises .

However, the operation of the liquor licensing system needs to understood by how it interacts with and is reliant on complementary provisions in other regulatory arrangements.

This includes the role of the police and the powers they exercise in relation to offences in liquor licensing and criminal offences other legislation, the role of health care providers related to the commitment and treatment of problematic users of alcohol and compliance with public health requirements for the operation of premises, food safety standards and related public health measures overseen by local government.

The following summary of the history administrative and departmental arrangements identifies the importance of liquor licensing regulatory system in this State since its inception as a British colony, which is considered in greater detail on Liquor licensing page.

Administrative and departmental arrangements

The Colonial Secretary was, from the beginning of 1832, a member of both Executive and Legislative Councils. Until the middle 1870s, the Commandant of the Military Forces took precedence over other Council members and presided at Council meetings in the Governor’s absence, but after 1873 the Colonial Secretary occupied this position and also, when the Legislative Council became partly elected in 1870, was the leader of the Government in the Legislative Council. 

Western Australia ceased to be a Crown Colony in 1890, in the first ministry under responsible government, one of the Ministers was the Colonial Secretary. The administrative head of the office from that date was the Under Secretary.

After WA was granted responsible government the Colonial Secretary was still at the head of an organisation controlling widely diversified affairs such as customs, post offices, defence, police, shipping, immigration, education, Aboriginal affairs, fisheries and many others. However, these howver had the status of sub-departments and kept their own records. Some functions passed to Federal control at later stages, others became departments under their own Ministerial heads.

The oversight of liquor licensing had been a function performed by the the Colonial Secretary’s Office, which was retitled the Chief Secretary’s Department in April 1924. The Chief Secretary’s Department was also responsible for a number of varied functions including harbour and lights, gaols, Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, astronomical services and racing.

The Liquor Licensing Court operated as a branch of the Chief Secretary’s Department until 1970 when, under the terms of the Liquor Act of 1970, the Court was established as a statutory authority empowered to grant licences on a state wide basis with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all applications regarding licensing and to set the conditions for the granting of licences and permits.

The Department of Administrative Services was created in December 1983 following the abolition of the Department of Employment and Administrative Services. The new department was responsible for the Licensing Court; astronomical services, the Registrar General’s Office and the office of the America’s Cup. 

The Department of Administrative Services was abolished in December 1984 and some staff were transferred to the new Office of Racing and Gaming (ORGL), which was designed to bring together into one organisation responsibility for racing, gaming and liquor matters, as well as providing policy advice to the Minister and was responsible for the administration of all racing, gaming and liquor legislation in WA.

The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor (DRGL) was established in July 2001 and performed similar functions as previously performed by the ORGL.

The DRGL was subsumed into the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in July 2017.