Parents will soon be unable to buy their teenager a beer or a glass of wine with their dinner at a pub or restaurant in Victoria, as the Andrews Government moves to ban the practice.
Current laws allow minors to drink booze in a licensed venue if they are with their parents and having a meal but legislation is being passed to outlaw it.
It has already made it through the Lower House, but a vote in the Upper House is still to be held.
The Opposition is supporting the changes.
The idea was suggested by many groups, including the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), during a recent liquor licensing review.
Many pubs already have a house policy of not allowing underage drinking under any circumstances, which can sometimes cause problems with patrons who know the law.
AHA chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan said the law was “outdated”, and the changes reflected community expectations.
“In the past some parents have had expectations that their children should be entitled to be supplied alcohol when consuming a meal in a hotel,” he said
“Often house policies of publicans are otherwise and this could lead to confusion among customers.”
The move was also backed by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in its submission to the liquor review, as well as other health bodies.
Minister for Gambling and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz said the reforms were about protecting children from alcohol harm.
“Minors shouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol in licensed venues — that’s why we’re changing the law to close this loophole,” Ms Kairouz said.
IPA slams ‘pinhead’ bureaucrats
But libertarian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs said the policy was a result of bureaucrats with too much time on their hands.
“It is purely an exercise in self-aggrandisement on the part of pinheads in the health department who have nothing better to do than concoct new ways of controlling our lives,” director of policy Simon Breheny said.
“Parents are best placed to make consumption decisions for their own children, not the state.
“This is yet another attempt by the Government to insert itself into the relationship between parent and child. It’s creepy and it’s wrong.”
The Opposition’s spokesman for liquor regulation, Danny O’Brien, said the Coalition was supportive of the move.
“We don’t want to be a nanny state but it’s pretty important to send a clear message on underage drinking and this was an anomaly that made life difficult for publicans and staff trying to ensure responsible service of alcohol,” he said.
That review was also charged with looking at how the licence process considers the impact of alcohol on family violence, which was a recommendation of the royal commission.