NT News has called on the Northern Territory government to “give Dan Murphy’s a fair go” as the liquor chain’s quest to open in Darwin grinds to a halt again.
The liquor commission is still to set a date regarding its licence application.
“Dan Murphy’s has been a carrot dangled in front of Territorians for far too long,” the newspaper writes. “It’s time for the liquor commission to stop teasing us — and the economy — and get the show on the road.”
Endeavour Drinks general manager corporate services Shane Tremble has also expressed his frustration to the NT News over the obstacles Dan Murphy’s has faced.
“It’s hard to maintain your excitement for three years, it’s turned into a bit of a slog — we haven’t heard anything,” he said.
“We don’t have a confirmed hearing date and we’re not getting anything back in terms of information required or any indication of what date it might be.
“It’s frustrating, the whole process is getting on for three years but we have little choice but to wait at this stage.”
Liquor commission chairman Richard Coates said: “Although the Northern Territory Liquor Commission is aware that a substitution of licence application in respect of Darwin Dan Murphy’s has been lodged with Licensing NT, it has not yet been referred to the Commission by the Director-General of Licensing.”
Former Director-General of Licensing Cindy Bravos added: “On 12 December 2018, the director-general of licensing received material from the applicant that now allows for the application to be referred to the Liquor Commission for determination.
“The Liquor Commission is identifying possible dates for a public hearing in the New Year.”
Continuing roadblocks for Dan’s in Darwin
Dan Murphy’s hit another of many roadblocks in its plans to open its first Northern Territory liquor superstore back in August, with Darwin Council stalling the application.
Darwin Council, which was split over the liquor store in principle, asked for more information after being denied access to an impact statement from Liquor, Gambling and Racing Licensing NT.
Endeavour first considered becoming part of the Darwin Airport Central development in 2015, but the plans were put on hold when the NT government introduced legislation that limited the floor size of bottle shops to 400sqm.
The move meant Dan Murphy’s was unable to obtain a development permit. Endeavour Drinks Group commenced legal action to have the floor size restriction quashed, but later withdrew it.
Allegations were later raised in NT parliament that the Gunner Government’s liquor floor space legislation was introduced at the request of the Australian Hotels Association to keep competition out of the market.
A review by former chief justice Trevor Riley recommended changes to the Northern Territory’s alcohol policies, including scrapping the floor-size restrictions, capping the number of take away liquor outlets and setting a floor price for alcohol.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner conceded that he made an error in pushing for the 400-square-metre rule, which had been dubbed the “Dan Ban”.
“I got that one wrong going into the election and it has been good to see that Trevor [Riley] has come forward with this report with a much more considered, better way of dealing with density and sales of take-away outlets,” Gunner said.
Tremble told NT News in July that the application “would not have been possible” without the decision by the Gunner Government to repeal its legislation limiting the floor space of bottlos to 400 sqm.
“We have full confidence in the Government’s vision for Darwin to be the ‘great capital’ of Northern Australia, and want to build a store that reflects positively on that vision and is a source of local pride worthy of showcasing to international tourists and interstate visitors,” Tremble said.
“We know that our application to bring a Dan Murphy’s to Darwin is overwhelmingly supported by the local community through both our own survey work and that conducted by an NT News poll which found over 84% of respondents were supportive.”