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Please read the information below if you are considering applying for a liquor licence for a premises that is in a dry area.
What is a dry area?
The Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (the Act) under schedule 3, clause 17, classifies the following areas of the Cities of Whitehorse and Boroondara as a 'dry area':
- east of Burke Road to Middleborough Road
- bounded to the north by Koonung Creek
- bounded to the south by Gardiner's Creek, Warrigal Road and Riverdale Road (as extended through the Box Hill Golf Course).
A map of the dry area (PDF, 159KB) is available to download.
The Act states the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) will not grant specific liquor licences unless expressly approved by the residents of the adjacent neighbourhoods. Residents vote in a liquor licence poll conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). This restriction applies to the following licence types:
- general licence (hotel or bar)
- on-premises licence
- club licence.
This approval process also applies to relocation of any existing licences to the dry area.
BYO permits are exempt from the dry area polls.
Previously, the VCGLR had used its discretion to poll residents before granting restaurant and cafe licences in the City of Boroondara portion of the ‘dry area’. As of Wednesday 6 May 2015, the VCGLR will no longer conduct polls before granting restaurant and cafe licences.
Ceasing to conduct polls for restaurant and cafe licences is:
- consistent with the approach taken for the dry area within the City of Whitehorse, where polls are not conducted for this licence category
- consistent with the VCGLR’s risk-based Regulatory Approach
- reduces the administrative and financial burden on residents, local council, the VEC and licensees.
An application for a general, on-premises or club licence in the 'dry area' must satisfy the standard licensing criteria of the Act.
In addition, licence applications will be the subject of a dry area poll conducted by the VEC. A majority of residents must vote in favour of the application before it may be granted by the VCGLR.
The VCGLR and the VEC consult to determine the neighbourhood that will be polled for a particular licence application.
Any dry area poll will be conducted only after the applicant has obtained planning permission from the relevant council (City of Boroondara or City of Whitehorse). The objections process continues to apply and objections may be submitted to the VCGLR. See the Objections page for further details.
A poll can be conducted by way of attendance or postal voting. This is determined by theVEC. The conduct of the poll is specified in the Liquor Control Reform Regulations 2009.
As specified in schedule 3, clause 18 of the Act, a relevant council may of its own initiative conduct a poll of all electors in the dry area of its municipality to determine whether the dry area provisions should be amended, abolished or retained.
The result of such a poll automatically amends the relevant provisions of the Act to give effect to the majority vote.
Frequently asked questions about dry areas
Boundaries for the liquor licensing polls are determined in conjunction with the VEC. The VEC models an appropriate neighbourhood boundary using its mapping application and makes a recommendation to the VCGLR.
For details pertaining to the relevant properties and electors that are compiled for the rolls, please contact the VEC directly.
A majority is achieved by halving the number of formal votes plus one.
If a majority of the electors voting formally vote against the resolution, the VCGLR must not grant the licence application, or any other licence application in that neighbourhood, within three years after the poll was conducted.
Liquor licensing polls are generally run using a postal method of voting, however, the VEC can decide that a poll be run using an attendance method of voting.
Only persons enrolled on the Victorian electoral roll in the neighbourhood of the establishment requesting the liquor licence are required to vote.
For postal voting, notices of the poll are placed in local newspapers and ballot packs are automatically sent to every enrolled voter within the neighbourhood boundary.
Only ballot papers received by the VEC before the close of polling can be counted. Polling day is clearly identified in the ballot pack.
The votes are counted and if the majority of voters vote 'yes', a liquor licence can be granted.
A majority result in favour of an application does not automatically grant the licence as the applicant is also required to satisfy the standard licensing criteria of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.