The Northern Territory Government is moving to force a decision to be made within 30 days on a long-running application for Dan Murphy’s to open its first store in Darwin.
The Government will urgently pass legislation to cut red tape and speed up the decision making process for the last two applications made under the former Liquor Act 1978.
This decision is in line with the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission’s Recommendation that all NTG decisions should be made within 30 days or less.
The two applications that were made under the Liquor Act 1978 are:
1. The Dan Murphy’s application (lodged in 2018); and
2. An application from the Pirlingimpi community to reinstate their takeaway liquor licence (lodged 2015, prior to the takeaway moratorium).
The bill will be introduced into Parliament today, and is expected to pass on Thursday.
Minister for Small Business, Paul Kirby said: “We want the Territory to be the easiest place to do business in the country – businesses need certainty to create jobs.
“It is unacceptable that businesses and the community should have to wait this long for an answer, yes or no, so we are moving urgent legislation to cut this decision making down to 30 days.
“One of the Commission’s key recommendations in its First Report was to make the Territory the easiest place in Australia to do business. Bringing in this legislation on urgency does just that.”
The bill will direct the Director of Liquor Licensing to make a decision on these two applications within 30 days. This means a final decision on Dan Murphy’s will be made before Christmas.
This Bill only applies to these two applications made under the Liquor Act 1978 and will not affect applications, complaints or other matters made since the commencement of the Liquor Act 2019.
Endeavour Group corporate services general manager Shane Tremble told NT News he welcomed the news.
“We are yet to see the bill itself or any details around it, but we welcome any steps that would bring this lengthy application process to a conclusion,” Tremble said.
“We have been, and continue to engage with local communities, to listen to and address any concerns they may have and incorporate them as part of our Responsible Service of Alcohol Management Plan and if approved, the Darwin Dan Murphy’s would have the most stringent set of alcohol control policies anywhere in the country.”
Endeavour has been involved in a four-year battle to open its first Northern Territory Dan Murphy’s.
When its application to the NT Liquor Commission was rejected last year, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was disappointed by the decision.
“Territorians want a Dan Murphy’s,” he noted. “I want to see a Dan Murphy’s in Darwin.
“Today’s decision is a kick in the guts for responsible drinkers, who want more choice in the Darwin market.”
Leaders in Aboriginal communities and health organisations have urged the commission to reject the application because of existing high levels of alcohol-related problems, including domestic violence and other crimes in the area.