In my disorganized way over time, I am building up something between a partial inventory and a bad scrapbook of some of the nuttier beer legislation in the world. This week I came across another one in the regulation of drinking establishments in the Australian state of New South Wales. I am not sure I have this right but it appears that there are only two classes of establishment - restaurant and hotel - as is illustrated in this passage from an article on the difficulties faced by reformers and people wanting to set up a better sort of bar:
The licensing fee for a restaurant which seated fewer than 100 people that wanted to offer a "drink or dine" option was $10,500. Even then, only 30 per cent of people at any time were allowed to order a drink without a meal, Mr Adams said. The fee increases to $15,500 for larger restaurants seating more than 100, but still only 30 per cent of patrons could drink and not eat. "There is no halfway home because after this, the only other option is a hotelier's licence. It is an outrage," he said.Well, the Liquor Act 1982 gives more classes of license but these seem to be the main two ones. And that rule that only 30% of drinkers cannot be chowing down when they are enjoying a beer is right there in the dine-or-drink authority rule. It's right there in the law.
You know, come to think of it, maybe there is just a really strong pro-eating lobby in New South Wales? Hmmm...they do have a principle that "food of a nature and quantity consistent with the responsible sale" must be provided in each establishment selling the drink. Food is a tool in the fight for harm minimalization. In fact, food is at risk in the wrong sort of place as a meal needed to be defined as "a genuine meal partaken of by a person seated at a dining table." Genuine - excellent use of the word. It's meaning made a debate in the state Parliament. Interesting to note another state in Oz goes so far as to say sandwiches are not genuine and had a tribunal hearing about a menu. Who knew? I always thought there was something suspicious about all that bread in sandwiches - no doubt propped up by the bread lobbyists.
But, perhaps best of all, because of that dine-or-drink rule, the law must also define what sitting is:
a reference to a seated dining position is a reference to a seated position at a table, being a position at which a meal can reasonably and comfortably be consumed.I was once able to set out in a local law the specific conditions under which a police officer might shoot a cow so I can only imagine the professional pride of the drafter of the law defining what it means for an Australian to be seated. It must have made the pro-chair lobbyist beam.