The Liquor Commission

Information on the role of the Commission and its commissioners.

On this page

Role of the Liquor Commission

The Liquor Commission Western Australia:

  • determines liquor licensing matters referred to it by the Director of Liquor Licensing
  • conducts reviews of certain decisions made by the Director, or by a single Member of the Commission
  • conducts reviews into decisions based on a question of law
  • determines complaints and disciplinary matters in accordance with section 95 of the Liquor Control Act 1988
  • makes binding, high-level decisions in accordance with Liquor Control Act 1988
  • award costs associated with matters before the Commission
  • reports annually to the Minister for Racing and Gaming on the activities of the Commission
  • reports to the Minister for Racing and Gaming, when requested to do so, on the jurisdiction and functions of the Commission, including the provision of high-level policy advice relevant to liquor control matters.

Jurisdiction of the Liquor Commission

In accordance with section 9 of the Liquor Control Act 1988:

  • The Liquor Commission has the jurisdiction conferred on it by the Liquor Control Act 1988 and any other written law.
  • The Liquor Commission constituted in accordance with the Liquor Control Act 1988 may sit and exercise the jurisdiction of the Commission even though the Commission differently constituted in accordance with this Act is at the same time sitting and exercising the jurisdiction of the Commission.

Constitution of the Liquor Commission

In accordance with section 9A of the Liquor Control Act 1988:

  • Except as otherwise stated in the Liquor Control Act 1988, or determined by the chairperson under subsection 9A (2), the Commission is to be constituted by one member.
  • The chairperson may determine that, in respect of any particular matter or any matter of a particular kind, the Commission is to be constituted by 3 members.
  • If the Commission is constituted by 3 members and they are divided on a question, the question is decided according to the opinion of the majority of them.

The Commission is constituted by 3 members whilst determining the following matters:

Section 24

  • Matters that can be referred by the Director to the Commission constituted by 3 members if:
    1. the matter or part of a matter relates to an application for the grant or removal of a licence;
    2. the matter or part of a matter relates to the making, variation or revocation of a prohibition order under Part 5A of the Act (any decision under Part 5A of the Act needs to be made in the 'public interest'); or
    3. the chairperson so determines subsection 9A (2).

Section 25

  • Application for review of the Director's decision when:
    1. the decision relates to an application for the grant or removal of a licence;
    2. the decision is to make, vary or revoke a prohibition order; or
    3. the chairperson so determines.

Section 28 (4a)

  • Appeal the decision of 1 Commission member to the Commission with a panel of 3 members:
    1. No appeal lies against a decision of the Commission constituted by one member if the decision was made on a review under Section 25 of a decision of the Director.
    2. No appeal lies against a decision of the Commission constituted by 3 members if the decision was made solely or partly on the basis of confidential police information.
    3. No further appeal can be made once a decision by the panel of 3 is made unless it is on a question of law to the Supreme Court by a single judge in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court.

Section 95

  • Complaint lodged for disciplinary action.
  • One member is to be a legal practitioner.

Liquor Commission members

The Liquor Commission consists of a chairperson and at least three, full, part-time or sessional members. At least one member of the commission is required to be a legal practitioner as defined in the Legal Practice Act 2003 or have been admitted to legal practice in another state or a Territory.

Each member of the commission is appointed by the Minister for Racing and Gaming on a full-time, part-time or sessional basis for a maximum period of five years.

The member or members who constitute the panel in relation to an application/appeal shall be selected by the chairperson, who will give consideration to their knowledge or experience.

Liquor Commission members:

Ms Kate Pedersen, Ms Emma Power, Mr Paul Shanahan, Ms Pamela Hass, Ms Elanor Rowe, Ms Kirsty Stynes, Mr Nicholas Van Hattem, Ms Alya Barnes, Mr Tony Di Francesco and Ms Shelley Davies are legal practitioners as defined in the Legal Profession Act 2008.

Kate Pedersen, Chairperson

LLM LLB (Hons) BSc LLB (Hons) Melbourne University

Kate Pedersen joined the independent bar in 2017 and is a commercial barrister with a wide-ranging litigation practice.

Before joining the independent bar she was an Assistant State Solicitor in the counsel team at the State Solicitor's Office, having commenced at the State Solicitor’s Office as an articled clerk in 2006.  She has acted in an extensive range of matters, including arbitrations, contractual disputes, Royal Commissions, coronial inquests, single judge appeals, and general civil litigation as well as regulatory crime.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Law from the University of Western Australia (Hons) and a Masters in Law from the University of Melbourne.

Emma Power, Deputy Chairperson

BA Dip Ed LLB (Hons) Murdoch University

Emma Power graduated with a Law degree from Murdoch University in 2004 and has been working predominately in property, development, corporate and commercial law since that time.

Prior to studying law Mrs Power was a secondary school teacher teaching visual arts.

In 2017 Mrs Power became the principal of the private law practice Power Commercial Law.

Mr Paul Shanahan

B.Juris, LLB University of Western Australia

Mr Shanahan graduated from the University of Western Australia with a bachelor of laws degree in 1988 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Western Australia the following year.

Mr Shanahan practices predominantly in litigation and dispute resolution, including commercial disputes, regulatory matters, administrative law matters, insurance and risk management issues. In the past, his practice has also included building and construction disputes. He has practiced in the public sector, as in-house Counsel and in private practice.

Mr Shanahan's skill-set includes advocacy, and he has almost 30 years' experience in representing clients in a large range of Courts and Tribunals. He is also actively involved in pro bono work and in the governing body of a private school.

Ms Pamela Hass

BA, LLB, LLM University of Western Australia

Pamela holds a Bachelor's degree in Law (with honours), an Arts degree, and a Master's degree in Law. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and until December 2014 an elected member of the Council of the Law Society of WA. She is now a Board Member of the RSPCA.

Until June 2011 Pamela Hass was University Secretary, Director of Governance and Special Legal Counsel at The University of Western Australia. Prior to this she was General Counsel and University Secretary at Macquarie University in Sydney. Before taking up the Macquarie position, she was General Counsel to Curtin University of Technology in Perth, where she established that University's first in-house legal service. Advice was provided at both Curtin and Macquarie Universities in administrative law, governance, intellectual property, dispute resolution, contract/commercial law, property law, and major litigation management.

Since 2011 Pamela has been General Counsel, Legal Services with the WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation where she heads a small in-house legal team working on major resources projects and other State initiatives.

Pamela has also worked in a variety of other positions in both private practice and public law.

She was the first national president of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association from Western Australia.

Ms Elanor Rowe

LLB (Hons) University of Reading

Elanor Rowe graduated from the Inns of Court School of Law, London in 2003 after completing her LLB Honours degree at Reading University and a Diploma in European Legal Studies at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands.

Ms Rowe has practised as a solicitor in both England and Australia and was admitted as a Lawyer in the Supreme Court of WA in 2010.

Ms Kirsty Stynes

Kirsty is a qualified legal practitioner currently employed at Seamus Rafferty Barrister and Solicitor. She was previously employed as a lawyer at Swan River Law Barristers and Solicitors and as an Usher to His Honour Judge Simon Stone at the District Court of Western Australia.

Mr Nicholas van Hattem

Mr van Hattem is a barrister with experience in commercial, government and criminal law matters. He has a particular focus on commercial disputes involving government agencies and regulatory prosecutions, particularly environmental, occupational safety and health and mining.

Ms Alya Barnes

Ms Alya Barnes is the Director and Principal of Barnes & Gatti Legal which is an incorporated legal practice with a focus on contract and commercial law, business sales, and pharmacy law issues including acquisitions and disposals. She has a strong background in litigation, property and commercial law.

Dr Kim Hames

Dr Kim Hames was born in 1953, and is married with six adult children and six grandchildren. He graduated in medicine in 1976 and became a family practitioner based in Inglewood where he worked full time until 1993.  In 1985 he was elected to the City of Bayswater, serving eight years as a Councillor, rising to the position of Deputy Mayor.

In 1993, Kim was elected to Parliament as the Liberal member for Dianella, and in 1997 was appointed by Premier Richard Court as Minister for Water, Housing and Indigenous Affairs. After losing his seat in the 2001 election, Kim started a new business doing Aboriginal Heritage surveys, and returned part time to medicine.

In 2005 he was elected to the seat of Dawesville, and by the 2008 election rose to the position of Deputy Leader of the Opposition. With Hon Colin Barnett’s election as Premier in 2008, Kim became Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Aboriginal Affairs. During the following eight years of Parliament Kim also served in other portfolios including Tourism and Workforce Development.

In 2016 he stepped down from his Ministerial roles and retired at the 2017 election.

Kim has since returned to General practice in a part-time capacity, also serving on the Boards of Madalah (providing scholarships to Aboriginal students), Ronald McDonald House and PathWest.

Kim’s roles as a GP, a local government councillor, and as Minister for Health, Tourism and Aboriginal Affairs give him a broad scope of knowledge which will be of great value in his new role as a Commissioner.

Ms Colleen Hayward

Ms Hayward has more than 35 years experience in providing significant input to policies and programs on a wide range of issues, reflecting the needs of minority groups at community, state and national levels. She has an extensive background in a range of areas including health, education, training, employment, housing, child protection and law and justice as well as significant experience in policy and management.

Ms Hayward is a member of the Fremantle Dockers Board, the Board of the Stephen Michael Foundation and Co-Chair of the WACA’s Aboriginal Advisory Council. She also serves as an Elder-in-Residence for the WA Department of Education, and chairs the Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board as part of the Mental Health Commission. Her regulatory work includes  member of the Gaming and Wagering Commission and the Senate of Murdoch University, where she is also part of the University’s Audit and Risk Committee.

Mr Tony Di Francesco

BA, B.Psych, B.Juris, LLB University of Western Australia

Tony is the Managing Director of Gramercy Legal and practices in the areas of corporate law, commercial law, property law and commercial litigation. He has been a director of several companies and organisations in the real estate, sport and media industries.

Ms Shelley Davies

BA(Psych) Edith Cowan University, LLB University of Notre Dame

Shelley was admitted to practice as a lawyer in 2014 and has gained experience in both large commercial and boutique firms since then. She is presently a senior lawyer at Vitalis Legal, a boutique commercial firm in West Perth.

She has practised in both commercial and litigation areas, including appearances before the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the State Administrative Tribunal and the Liquor Commission.

Foundation of the Liquor Commission

In May 2007, the State Government introduced reforms to the State's liquor licensing legislation. One of the major changes to the Liquor Control Act 1988 was the replacement of the Liquor Licensing Court with a Liquor Commission to primarily provide a flexible system with as little formality and technicality as practicable.

Parties will not be able to consider their opportunity before the Director of Liquor Licensing a trial run, or a free hit in order to gain a favourable outcome at the hands of a higher authority. The Commission, on conducting a review of the Director's decision, may only consider the material that was before the Director when making the decision.

Parties may appeal the Liquor Commission's decision to the Supreme Court on a question of law, but any appeal will only be heard on a question of law by a single judge and not the full bench of the superior court.

They will be unable to refine or amend the presentation of their case to address the areas that proved unsuccessful in front of the Director.

Background to change

In September 2004, the former Minister for Racing and Gaming, Hon Nick Griffiths LLB MLC, appointed an independent review committee to conduct a review of Western Australia’s liquor licensing legislation.

One of the key objectives of the committee was to consider the effectiveness of the operations of the State’s liquor licensing authority.

The scope of the review provided for consideration to be given to the process of disciplinary hearings.

In delivering its findings to the Minister, the committee outlined the reasoning behind a recommendation for replacing the Liquor Licensing Court with the Liquor Commission.

The following is an extract from pages 50-51 of the Report of the Independent Review Committee.

"In considering what is the most appropriate structure for the licensing authority and one which best serves the interests of the public of Western Australia, the committee considered the written submissions, views expressed in various stakeholder interviews and broad observations of other liquor licensing jurisdictions throughout Australia.

Widespread criticism of the cost and legalistic nature of having matters determined under the Act has been made for over 15 years. Attempts to address this problem have met with limited success.

The 1990 review observed: 'The present system is unsuitable. It is too rigid, time consuming and costly. People who benefit from these deficiencies are those in the industry who want to prevent competition, and the legal profession. Significantly, several members of the legal profession itself have pointed to these problems even though they are resulting in a great deal of work for solicitors.'

Similar criticism was again presented to this committee. Of particular concern was the appeal process where the Court hears matters de novo. The existing system is considered by many to be too legalistic and not conducive to providing a 'flexible system with as little formality or technicality as may be practicable'.

The community generally feels disenfranchised by the existing practices and procedures. Effectively, applicants and objectors, especially those who can afford legal representation, are using hearings before the Director as a 'practice run' and if dissatisfied with the outcome then appeal to the Court for a review, often introducing new evidence.

The 1998 amendments to the Act sought to make the appeal process simpler. However, because of the adopted practice of de novo hearings, this has proven not to be the case. The current system supports those who have considerable financial backing to the disadvantage of the community and small operators.

The 1990 review flagged the idea of a Liquor Licensing Commission and the 1994 Mattingley review stated: 'From its inquiries interstate and elsewhere the committee has no doubt that liquor licensing is becoming more administrative and less legalistic, which is reducing costs for both licence applicants and objectors, hence it considers that industry and the community would be better served by a commission than a court...'

Page reviewed 13 September 2022