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RSAs on the house for next year's festival

It's on the house... stall holders at next year's festival will be offered free RSA  training.

It's on the house... stall holders at next year's festival will be offered free RSA training. Photo: Michelle Smith

National Multicultural Festival stall holders will be offered free responsible service of alcohol training next year, following heated criticism of "double standards" from the Australian Hotels Association.

ClubsACT, the industry body for Canberra clubs, offered on Monday afternoon to train stall holders for free for the 2014 event.

That offer has been accepted by the event's organisers, according to ClubsACT.

It comes after the Australian Hotels Association's ACT branch called for alcohol to be banned at the festival, saying it was unfair that stall holders did not require alcohol service training, but licensed venues did.

Their stance was criticised by ClubsACT as "a step way too far".

ClubsACT chief executive Jeff House said offering free training was a "common sense solution" that supported the community groups running the stalls.

“Whilst there is nothing to warrant the festival becoming alcohol free, I am very pleased the organisers of the festival have accepted our offer of free RSA courses for stall holders next year”, Mr House said.

“Our commitment to provide training free of charge will assist community groups who are so reliant on the exposure and income the event provides," he said.

Stall holders are required to comply with non-commercial liquor licences, and were not allowed to serve drinks after 10pm, two hours earlier than the midnight deadline at previous festivals.

AHA ACT General Manager Brad Watts issued a statement on Monday morning, calling on the government to scrap all exemptions to responsible service of alcohol regulations for major events in the ACT.

Mr Watts said the current approach was "unbalanced" and "unfair".

"Licensed venues must comply with strict RSA rules and all staff at licensed venues must undergo costly training to gain RSA certificates," Mr Watts said.

“There can't be double-standards applied to RSA – there must be a level playing field for alcohol regulation in Canberra," he said.

Mr Watts said the AHA received numerous reports of irresponsible service of alcohol at the Multicultural Festival, including the serving of minors and the selling of discounted spirits.

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