After a four-year battle, Woolworths has finally gained approval to open the first Dan Murphy’s NT store in Darwin.
NT’s Director of Liquor Licensing was given a December 20 deadline to make a decision and approved the liquor store application on Friday. Last month, the Government urgently passed legislation to cut red tape and speed up the decision making process for the store.
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.”
When Dan Murphy’s 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 had urged the commission to reject the application for an NT store because of existing high levels of alcohol-related problems, including domestic violence and other crimes in the area.
Woolworths Group announced on Wednesday that it would conduct an independent panel review – to be completed by April next year – on the adequacy and nature of stakeholder engagement and health concerns, how stakeholder concerns have been factored into the decision-making, and the best practice to apply to the supply and sale of alcohol to ensure the best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are maintained.
Woolworths Group Chairman Gordon Cairns said: “As part of this engagement, the team has committed to a number of measures as well as a Responsible Service and Consumption Plan, which would mean the proposed Darwin Dan Murphy’s would have the most stringent set of alcohol control policies anywhere in the country.
“While stakeholder engagement has been extensive to date, we acknowledge that there are some in the community that feel they have not been adequately consulted regarding the proposed store. The IPR will provide a further opportunity for them and other stakeholders with a legitimate interest in the development to express their views.”
Woolworths Group has committed that no work will commence on the proposed site until the panel’s review is complete. Woolworths Group will also publicly release the panel’s report and will take into account all recommendations made.