Multicultural Festival stallholders will be offered free responsible service of alcohol training next year, following heated criticism over ''double standards'' in alcohol regulation made by the Australian Hotels Association.
ClubsACT, the industry body for Canberra clubs, has offered to train stallholders for free for the next event.
That offer has been accepted by organisers, according to ClubsACT. It comes after the AHA's ACT branch called for alcohol to be banned at the festival, saying it was unfair stallholders did not require responsible service of alcohol training, but licensed venues did.
That stance was described by ClubsACT chief executive Jeff House as ''baffling'' on Tuesday. Mr House said offering free training, which typically costs $75, was a ''commonsense solution'' that supported the community groups operating the stalls. There were more than 400 stalls at the festival on the weekend, but Mr House said training would only be provided to those who volunteered.
''I don't believe there's any case at all that would warrant banning alcohol,'' Mr House said. ''Ensuring that the sellers have the same opportunity to do the same training as licensees was worthy of consideration, we offer a course… so the sensible and constructive thing would be to offer them the course,'' he said.
AHA-ACT general manager Brad Watts said the organisation wanted mandatory training for staff at all festivals and events in Canberra, not just the Multicultural Festival.
Mr Watts said the approach was unbalanced and unfair on licensed venues who paid large amounts of money to put their staff through training.
''The AHA-ACT is simply calling for mandatory RSA training for staff at all festivals and events in Canberra,'' Mr Watts said.
''There can't be double-standards applied to RSA by regulators - there must be a level playing field applied to alcohol regulation across Canberra.''
He said the association welcomed events and festivals that brought in tourists and injected money into the ACT economy.
Mr Watts said the AHA received numerous reports of irresponsible service of alcohol at the festival, including allegations minors were served alcohol, and spirits were offered at a discount. Stallholders are required to comply with non-commercial liquor licences, and were not allowed to serve drinks after 10pm this year, two hours earlier than the midnight deadline at previous festivals.