Labor has promised to abolish so-called dry areas in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, where residents are required to vote on whether a liquor licence should be granted to new bars, pubs and clubs.
The laws, which date back to the 1920s anti-alcohol movement, cover parts of the suburbs of Ashburton, Glen Iris, Camberwell, Canterbury, Box Hill, Balwyn, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills.
Since 2012, the Victorian Electoral Commission has carried out 20 polls, and in each of these, voters approved the new licence.
Residents who do not vote are fined $79.
The Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, said the “archaic” laws were a waste of taxpayer funds.
“There are already a number of licensed venues that exist within the remaining dry area,” she said.
“We are removing these laws, we are bringing these laws in line with the rest of the state.”
Ms Kairouz said the polls had cost taxpayers almost $500,000 since 2004.
“We know and we value that Victoria is a cosmopolitan and a contemporary state,” she said.
“The change will build on the importance of Victoria’s cafe and restaurant culture.”
She said residents could still have input into planning and permit approvals through their local councils.
Asked about Labor’s pledge, Opposition leader Matthew Guy said there were more urgent priorities.
“Melbourne’s eastern suburbs will have a choice of priorities at the next election, whether they want more police under a Liberal Nationals government, or more nightclubs under a Labor government,” he said.
“From my point of view, the priority of the state government should be more focused on providing more police to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.”