Invisible Powers to Punish: Licensee-barring Order Provisions in Victoria and South Australia
Problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption have prompted a range of legislative, regulatory and operational responses. One provision empowers licensees, in Australian jurisdictions such as Victoria and South Australia, to formally exclude patrons from their venues and the surrounding public area. The imposition of a licensee-barring order requires no demonstrable offence to be committed. No proof needs to be documented and the ban takes effect immediately. Non-compliance is subject to police enforcement and possible criminal breach proceedings. The process through which a barring order may be challenged can be ambiguous and time consuming, and the punishment is typically served regardless of the review outcome. However, limited data are available to enable assessment of the way in which barring orders are used. As such, this paper examines how licensee-barring orders extend to non-judicial and non-law enforcement officers an on-the-spot and pre-emptive power to punish. Yet, with no formal training, monitoring or meaningful oversight of their use, barring orders are open to abuse and constitute a summary power to punish that is opaque to scrutiny.
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