New hope for Dan Murphy’s to open in Darwin

20 February, 2020 by Deborah Jackson

Endeavour Group has welcomed the introduction of the Liquor Amendment Bill 2020 to the Northern Territory Parliament, which if passed could see Dan Murphy’s able to open its first store in the state.

For five years, Endeavour Group has wanted to open a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin and had proposed to transfer a liquor licence from a former BWS outlet to a new site as part of the Darwin airport expansion. But in September last year, the Northern Territory Liquor Commission rejected that application, saying that a licence could not be transferred to an outlet that had not yet been built.

Advertisement

In its extensive, 103-page report regarding its decision, the Commission said that while it was not opposed to the concept of a Dan Muprhy’s in Darwin, given everything it has to consider as part of an application for a store of this size, it could not approve the application for the store in this particular site.

Endeavour Group’s parent company, Woolworths then lodged an appeal with the Northern Territory Civil and Administration Tribunal (NTCAT) in December, but the appeal was dismissed.

Woolworths lawyers have been seeking to overturn this decision, and an appeal that was initially set to be heard on 21 February has been pushed back until late March due to the introduction of the new legislation.

Shane Tremble, General Manager Corporate Services, Endeavour Group, told National Liquor News that the Liquor Amendment Bill 2020 would not guarantee a successful application for the Dan Murphy’s Darwin site.

“Endeavour Drinks welcomes the introduction of the Liquor Amendment Bill to Parliament last week, and we look forward to working with all interested parties to ensure that any future Dan Murphy’s store not only meets the needs of our customers, but also considers the needs and concerns of the broader community.

“On the face of it the legislation tabled last week would appear to clearly address the issues around the proposed substitution of the licence that led to the NTCAT refusal decision in December. It also fulfils the Government’s commitment to clarify the original intent of the legislation.

“Our lawyers only received the bill late on Friday and they are reviewing the proposed legislation now, so we can’t comment in detail at this point, however a couple of things are clear.

“The Bill does not provide any guarantee of a successful application. If the Bill is passed in its current form it will mean that we will return to NTCAT for another hearing. This new proceeding will determine whether we can bring the Dan Murphy’s brand to Darwin.

“We’re currently appealing the NTCAT’s December decision in the Supreme Court, and that appeal was due to be heard on 21 February. That has now been adjourned until late March due to the introduction of the new legislation.”

The Government has set a deadline of 2 March for submissions on the proposed legislation and then the Bill will be voted on by the Legislation Scrutiny Committee.

“We do not know at this stage if the Bill will pass prior to our scheduled Supreme Court hearing. Consequently, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any impact on the Supreme Court appeal at this point as the appeal is still underway and new legislation has not been enacted,” said Tremble.