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Liquor Licensing Research

Official inquiries

Since the early 1920s there have been a number of official inquiries in Western Australia (WA) which have examined aspects of the operation of the State's liquor licensing laws, including:

  • Royal Commission on Licensing (1922) - Henry Mann MLA Chairman
  • Parliamentary Committee Into the Licensing Act 1911-1956 (1958) - Eric Heenan MLC Chairman
  • Inquiry Into the Licensing Act 1911 (1969) - Phillip Adams QC Chairman
  • Royal Commission into Liquor Laws in Western Australia (1984) - John Syme Chairman
  • Review of Western Australian Liquor Act 1970 (1987) - Office of Racing & Gaming
  • Independent Review of Liquor Licensing Act 1988 (1994) - KV Mattingley Chairman
  • Independent Review of Liquor Licensing Act 1988 (2005) - Jim Freemantle Chairman
  • Assessment of Impacts of Liquor Licensing Reforms (2005) - Allen Consulting

Click here to view a list of the names & dates of the political parties which have held government in WA from December 1890 (when the state obtained responsible government from being British colony) to identify the context when each inquiry was held.

Royal Commission on Licensing (1922)

Click here to view or download a PDF (1.2Mb) copy of the report of the Mann Royal Commission.

Parliamentary Committee Into the Liquor Licensing Act 1911-1956 (1958)

Click here to view or download a PDF (2.1Mb) copy of the report of the Heenan Parliamentary Inquiry.

Inquiry Into the Licensing Act 1911 (1969)

Click here to view or download a PDF (3.2Mb) copy of the report of the Adams Inquiry.

Royal Commission Into Liquor Laws (1984)

Click here to view or download a PDF version (2.6Mb) of the report of the Syme Royal Commission.

Other inquiries

In the first few decades of the WA Parliament there were a number of members of parliament (MPs) who strongly advocated temperance measures with the objective of achieving some of the goals of alcohol prohibition. These measures included establishing State run hotels, reductions in the number of liquor licenses through establishing License Reduction Boards, restricting opening hours by six o'clock closing of hotels & legislation to hold local option & prohibition polls. The advocates of alcohol prohibition policies to drastically curtail the availability & consumption of alcohol in the State drew support & validation for their cause from similar measures that had been introduced elsewhere.

Reports from investigations undertaken of other jurisdictions were tabled in the WA Parliament in 1909 & 1923:

Report on the operation of the liquor laws of New South Wales, Victoria & New Zealand

This 14 page report was tabled in 1909, as a result of an investigation undertaken by Alfred Carson at the instigation of the Premier of the time, James Moore. As suggested in the report's concluding paragraph, there was a sense of parochial satisfaction with the State's alcohol policies at that time:

I cannot conclude this report without saying that, whatever the demerits of the liquor traffic in our own State, the average character of our licensed premises is incomparably higher than those which came under my notice in any one of the States I visited, and this notwithstanding that in Victoria, New South Wales, and New Zealand the process of eliminating redundant licenses, by one means or another, has been in progress for years. (page 15)

Click here to view or download a PDF (1.8Mb) copy of the report.

Prohibition in North America

This 40 page report, which was conducted by Thomas Walker MLA, who had been the Attorney General in the Mitchell government, which held office between May 1919 & April 1924. The report presented a substantial amount of information obtained through interviews, from statistical materials & various written materials garnered from a tour of a number of 16 American States & 6 Canadian Provinces between February & June 1923.

The author of the report was a passionate supporter for the adoption of the principles of prohibitlon in WA:

In the public schools of America scientific facts regarding alcohol are now being generally taught. The coming generations will know the truth, and after all perhaps the strongest foundation for a prohibition edifice is scientific education. There are those who believe that that is the only way of attaining ultimate National sobriety, but as the PremIer of a great State you will recognise, I think, that if science demonstrates that alcohol, however moderately consumed, is a menace to the longevity of the citizens of the State, and to the continuance of a virile race, it is the duty of the law-makers of the Nation, without waiting until all the ignorance of the people has been removed, to take action. A wise statesman would not wait until all the people had been educated to the evil effects and the dangers of the plague, or any lesser epidemic, before he placed laws upon the statute book prescribing regulations limiting the “personal liberty” of the subjects of the State so as to prevent the spread of any malady productive of fatality or the permanent injury to the victims of the disease. (page 39)

Click here to view or download a PDF (4.1Mb) copy of the report.

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