The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is proposing to impose a $1,000 fine on parents whose minor children enter pubs, clubs and bottle shops to imbibe alcoholic beverages. The current fine is $440 under the Liquor Act.
The fines would initially be slapped on the minors but if they cannot afford it, then their parents will be liable to pay the penalty, said AHA Chief Executive Paul Nicolaou.
The plan has the support of New South Wales (NSW) Premier Barry O'Farrell.
"I welcome the idea that if we can't control young people . . . then their parents - who are meant to be their sponsors - should bear some responsibility as well," Fairfax Media quoted the premier.
The proposed $1,000 fine was made by AHA in a submission to an inquiry initiated by the NSW government to study underage drinking in the state, particularly how effective are the existing laws.
AHA pointed out that current regulations place the entire burden on pub and clubs, but not on minors. The association wants the responsibility shared with parents and government.
NSW data showed that between 2009 and 2011, the state courts convicted 79 licensees for selling liquor to underage residents while the police and Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing issued 155 penalty notices.
"Kids should know there is a punishment - a fine of some sort - for trying to get into an establishment when you're not the legal age. And if the kid can't pay, the parents should pay and they can get the money back from their child in some way. At the moment there is no deterrent," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mr Nicolaou.
However, the Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) hit the AHA proper for being absurd.
"We all want a system where you don't have children abusing alcohol but is turning parents and children into criminals going to achieve that? This is about changing the national culture, not giving people criminal records, CCL President Cameron Murphy said.
To contact the editor, e-mail: