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Woolworths granted yet another liquor license

A Dan Murphys store (Photo: McCartney Design)

Further to my recent article on the new Dan Murphy’s store in Leichhardt, Mosman residents are up in arms about the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s approval of a development application by Woolworths.

The approval follows a four-year battle in which local residents, the council, the local liquor licensing officer, the police and health authorities opposed the application for a new liquor store at 718-728 Military Rd, Mosman, just down from Spit Junction.

The application was approved last October, having previously been appealed to the Land and Environment Court, which overturned local council opposition.

Earlier last year, in March, an application for a liquor licence by Camperdown Cellars for a site near the Woolworths site was also approved by the authority, although the word on the grapevine is they’re probably not going ahead. Perhaps they were scared off by the Dan Murphy’s licence being granted.

The ABC ran a story on November 19 querying why the Woolworths licence was allowed, when there were 61 liquor licences in the Mosman area including 16 which sold takeaway alcohol. There didn’t seem to be a yawning need for more.

A glance at Google Maps shows the density of bottle shops in the area, including Cremorne and Neutral Bay.

The ABC queried why this licence was allowed. It pointed out that in six months only one application had been disallowed in the entire state by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. It had refused two applications to transfer existing licences.

“Overall, the number of liquor licence applications that have been refused has gradually fallen from 104 to just 15 between 2010 and 2015,” the ABC reported.

Mosman residents want to know what is the point of having an ‘independent’ licensing authority if it approves virtually every application that comes across its desk, even when there’s strong local opposition. Is it really independent?

Why take submissions from consulting authorities such as the police liquor licensing officer or local health authorities if they’re ignored? And what weight is given to local resident submissions – if any?

And finally: what thought is given to existing, long-standing businesses that will be impacted (and possibly driven out) by the new licences? The underlying problem behind the last point is that big supermarket retailers such as Coles and Woolworths do not operate on the same playing field as independent retailers. This is evidenced by the fact that independent retailers can buy ‘big company’ wines and many beers cheaper from a supermarket retailer than from their wholesale supplier.

3 thoughts on “Woolworths granted yet another liquor license”

  1. John Quinn says:

    The irony of today’s society? Today I’ve made the decision to close my Nth Shore bricks and mortar store because trade has significantly decreased over the last 5-6 years due to Woolies and Coles aggressive strategy to close down small business. The Mosman residents who claim to support such small business will be the first at the door for the opening of Dan’s. How else do they fuel the mortgage. Hypocrites.

  2. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    Andrew, I’m not supporting Camperdown Cellars’ licence application! I find it hard to see a need for any more liquor licences in the area.

  3. Andrew Wilsmore says:

    Hi Huon

    Just thought I would reach out to help clarify a few points in your article.

    The majority of opposition was not about Dan Murphy’s and its liquor offer, but predominately focussed on concerns about parking, vehicular access, and the ongoing challenges of traffic congestion that beleaguers much of Sydney and that part of the world in particular. And to be honest, those concerns would have been made against any retailer or business that tried to establish itself in that particular location.

    To be totally transparent: From a local council population of ~30,000 residents, we had approx 30 opposing submissions with several in a pro-forma format that were driven by two large residential complexes behind the proposed Dan Murphy’s. We had 8 supportive submissions.

    We successfully argued and proved in court that our traffic management plans and agreed access restrictions met the requirements of the area. And we successfully demonstrated our ongoing commitment to be Australia’s most responsible drinks retailer in the granting of our licence application.

    Your concerns about the granting of licences also seems a little inequitable. It would appear you support the proliferation of independent licences and only those of Coles and Woolworths should be rejected. (For example, you seem supportive of Camperdown Cellars application, but it was also opposed by police, health authorities and local residents).

    By advocating to protect existing licences from possible failure as a result of competition (i.e. a return of the “public needs test”), you are basically telling the customer that their choice on who, how and where they should shop is not important if it means protecting an existing retailer from competition. Surely it should be for the customer to make that decision? And as a result, retailers will strive to offer better and more improved services and products.

    The other untold good news is that despite the increase in licences and subsequent increase in customer choice and competition, the rates of alcohol-related assaults and harm continue to fall across NSW and Australia. This is a good news story and shows Australians increasingly have a positive and moderate relationship with alcohol despite its wider availability.

    We are really excited about opening this store and think it will be a great addition to the shopping experiences of the lower north shore, but ultimately it will be shoppers and their feet which will determine its survival.

    PS: We understand Camperdown Cellars advised they were not going ahead with their (conditionally granted) licence before we lodged ours.

    Cheers

    Andrew Wilsmore
    Head of Risk & Reputation
    Endeavour Drinks Group

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