In late December, Northern Territory’s Liquor Licensing director Philip Timney greenlit plans for the Endeavour Group to proceed with Dan Murphy’s, Darwin following close to five years of debate and consultation.
However, Endeavour’s parent company, the Woolworths Group, announced that even with approval, development will not commence until Woolworths’ Independent Panel Review (IPR) is complete around April 2021 as public health concerns persist.
Woolworths Group Chairman Gordon Cairns said: “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.
“The Report will also help inform comprehensive decision-making by senior-management and the Woolworths Group Board. This reflects both the strong level of community interest in the development and the importance of ensuring that sufficiently robust plans are in place regarding the responsible service of alcohol. In particular, that the proposed development will mitigate any potential risk of harm to local Indigenous communities.”
The IPR will be headed by Danny Gilbert AM, co-founder and managing partner of law firm Gilbert + Tobin, co-chair of the Cape York Partnership Group, director of the Business Council of Australia and an advocate for Indigenous Australians for over 30 years. The IPR will run in parallel with Endeavour Group’s continued stakeholder and community engagement.
The Panel is tasked with reviewing:
- The adequacy and nature of stakeholder engagement to date, including concern for public health.
- How stakeholder concerns have informed decisions around the development
- Best practice as it might apply to the supply and sale of alcohol as it impacts the lives and best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Woolworths Group has said it will publicly release the Panel’s report and take into account all recommendations made.
“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,” said Cairns.
Control policies include Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) – which will be higher than the government’s MUP -a Banned Drinker Register and that consumers have a legitimate address at which to consume the liquor.
Woolworths said, “We welcomed the licensing conditions imposed on the proposed store by the NT Director of Liquor Licensing, as we believe that they address the remaining community concerns.
“One of the conditions is that every customer must have ‘a legitimate address to consume the liquor’. Given this requirement – as well as the specifics of our RSA Management Plan – this condition will mean that we will not be selling alcohol if we believe it is to be consumed in public or taken into a dry community.
Following community feedback, Endeavour Drinks moved the proposed site at Darwin Airport Retail Precinct further away from Indigenous communities.
Woolworths Group says it has a long standing commitment to support First Nations customers, team members, suppliers and communities. This includes its backing of the Uluru Statement from the Heart as well as a Reconciliation Action Plan outlining specific actions such as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples employment and increasing the number of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supply partners.
The company has been working closely with the Elders and leaders of both the Minmarama and Kulaluk communities and has committed to a number of measures to mitigate the risk of alcohol related harm. Both of these communities have expressed their support for the revised application.