Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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HomeIssue 9Dan Murphy's pulls the pin on Darwin store

Dan Murphy’s pulls the pin on Darwin store

By ERWIN CHLANDA

Araluen Independent Robyn Lambley says there are similarities between the art gallery schemozzl in Alice Springs and the collapse of the Woolworths Dan Murphy’s liquor store deal in Darwin.

Referring to four years of negotiating marked by “extreme and absolute incompetence of the Gunner Labor Government” and “boundless red tape” Mrs Lambley says it “actively blocked Dan’s for years.

“Then they staged the ultimate backflip – or belly-flop – in November last year, when the Minister for Alcohol Policy, Natasha Fyles, dug her heals in and refused to take carriage of legislation designed to enable the development of Dan Murphy’s by giving the NT Director of Liquor Licensing powers to override decisions made by the ‘Independent’ NT Licensing Commission.

“Poor old Paul Kirby, the new Minister for Small Business, was forced to push through this legislation on urgency to line up the ducks for Dan’s to get through, after years of being blocked by his Government,” says Mrs Lambley.

Meanwhile Leader of the Opposition, Lia Finocchiaro, says: “The government’s reaction and continual shifting of the goalposts made it very clear, even to the most casual observer, that the NT is not a good place to do business.

“In 2016, the Gunner Labor Government dramatically changed the law restricting bottle shop floor space to 400 square metres, which effectively blocked Dan Murphy’s from setting up in Darwin.

“Six months later the Chief Minister conceded he stuffed up and repealed that legislation. Add to that, a string of court action, numerous applications with NT Licensing, and appeals with NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

“Labor’s initial reaction and subsequent counter-reactions has killed this development. The Gunner Government is hell-bent on wiping out business confidence in the Territory – and today’s announcement shows it’s succeeding.”

PHOTO of Dan Murphy from an advertising clip of the company.

UPDATE 3pm April 30:

Caterina Giorgi, Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education says the decision to quit “is a huge community victory after years of poor consultation and lack of empathy for community concerns from one of the nation’s biggest corporations.

“Over the past five years, Woolworths has relentlessly fought to build what would be one of Australia’s largest liquor stores, an 1800-square-meter Dan Murphy’s, on the doorstep of Bagot community, a dry Aboriginal community in Darwin.

“But at every opportunity, the local community was ready to take on Woolworths [and] Dan Murphy’s felt the public pressure,” says Ms Giorgi.

“Woolworths’ decision to halt the development of the store is an acknowledgement to people power and how we can bring about real-world change.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. This article is little more than a mouthpiece for Lambley and Finocchiaro, and gives us nothing to understand the whole Dan Murphy’s debacle. Debacle? Yes.
    Woolworths, one of Australia’s largest retailers, has pursued this issue for so long solely in the interest of its executives and shareholders. It has consistently ignored the social and cultural impacts of establishing the largest grog shop in the southern hemisphere in favour of profits.
    Indeed its adoption of an increase in the floor price only served to increase those profits. The minimum floor price is pocketed by grog shops – not a cent goes into government coffers, let alone is available to fund alcohol rehabilitation and the like.
    The Gunner government decision to ignore its independent Liquor Commission by replacing it with a decision by a public servant was there to serve the interests of Woolworths, and not the community. Indeed, the public servant involved laughably claimed the building of Dan Murphy’s was vital to overcoming the economic impact of COVID-19. Really?
    Any decent economist would point to infrastructure spending as the route to overcoming the pandemic. The building of a grog barn is hardly “critical infrastructure”, and, as the AHA has pointed out, would reduce employment at other liquor outlets in Darwin.
    The reason why Woolworths has pulled out has nothing to do with facing the problems of grog in the NT, but with reputational damage to its social licence to operate – including the threat it would pose to its Reconciliation Action Plan which it trumpets on its web site.
    And to all those bemoaning being robbed of “choice”? Do we really need to have a “choice’ of 60 different Pinot Noirs? Where’s the “choice” for kids born with FASD?
    Or those subject to domestic violence?
    Or our health workforce having to deal with the consequences of the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world?
    Give us a break!

  2. Couldn’t put it better. The article records the political cat fight has nothing to do with community reality.

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