People fill Garema Place for the National Multicultural Festival at the weekend. Photo: Elesa Lee
ClubsACT has rejected claims by the Australian Hotels Association that the national multicultural festival should be alcohol free, calling it ''a step way too far''.
The AHA claimed there were double standards in play - people selling alcohol at the festival not having to undergo responsible service of alcohol training, a strict requirement for staff at Civic-based licensed venues.
''The festival should be alcohol-free if they can't satisfy the same requirements as all licensees,'' the general manager of the ACT branch of the AHA, Brad Watts, told The Sunday Canberra Times.
But on social media, ClubsACT defended the multicultural festival.
''Looking forward to visiting #multiculturalfestival today. Can't agree with the AHA on banning the sale of alcohol though,'' ClubsACT tweeted on Sunday.
Chief executive Jeff House said there was nothing to warrant the festival becoming alcohol free.
''The management of the festival work in conjunction with the relevant authorities to make sure they abide by all the regulations, including the relaxation of the serving of kava. It's a good event, it's well run and I don't believe there's a need for it to be alcohol free,'' Mr House said.
''The idea of having those stalls that sell alcohol do an RSA course, I think that's worth looking at to ensure that people aren't being served alcohol when they shouldn't be,'' Mr House said, noting ClubsACT was one provider of the course. ''I think that's a worthy step, but I think banning the sale of alcohol at the event is a step way too far.''
A festival spokesperson said all stall holders selling alcohol have to go through a non-commercial liquor licensing application process and meet set criteria to serve alcohol.
The festival also brought forward last drinks from midnight last year to 10pm this year, a self-imposed initiative as organisers strive for a family-friendly environment.
The Canberra Brewers club, which has held a stall at the festival for two years, brief all volunteers in the key points of responsible service of alcohol before their shift to ensure no problems with their liquor licence.
''It's an assumption I'd make that everyone does take their liquor licence requirements seriously - there's substantial penalties for failure to meet those requirements,'' stall organiser Tom Dixon said.
''The multicultural festival brings in about a quarter of a million people each year and I'm confident if you looked at incidents per capita it would be a lot lower than the average Saturday night in Civic,'' he said.