LSA members vote to merge with RDA

05 December, 2018 by Andy Young

RDA’s Michael Waters, Michelle Walker, Julie Ryan and John Tsapicounis

Members of the Liquor Stores Association NSW & ACT (LSA) have voted in favour of the proposal to merge with association with the newly formed Retail Drinks Australia (RDA).

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The proposal came after the formation of RDA following a strategic and structural review by the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA). That review and consultation determined that best strategy, to ensure ALSA was future fit and could effectively service the needs of members and industry, was for ALSA and the state and territory LSAs to merge into one national and unified industry body.

Yesterday saw LSA members gather for the Annual General Meeting to vote on the proposal: the LSA’s Constitution requires a minimum of 75 per cent of its total membership to vote in favour of the special resolution and this number was achieved.

LSA President, and founding board member of RDA, Paul Heilman delivered a speech to members, which called out the many significant achievements in its 58 year history, highlighted the future challenges and opportunities and called on members to vote in favour of the merge.

“Our Association was formed in 1961, by a group of retailers led by foundation President and industry legend Jack Jarman, who began lobbying the Government to amend the liquor laws to gain single bottle licence conditions,” Heilman said.

“It took the Association five years, but in early 1966 the Government finally amended the liquor laws – the first of many significant achievements for the Association in its 58 year history.

“As ALSA’s largest member, representing over 60 per cent of national membership, we’ve never been stronger or in a better position in our 58 year history. We are a consistent, professional and trusted advisor amongst industry and government stakeholders, regularly involved in policy development, key pan-industry working groups and projects. However, we are only as strong as the sum of our parts.

“Retail Drinks has a vision and purpose founded on the principle of equal representation and pan industry collaboration, and will pro-actively work to ensure a stronger, more inclusive united voice for industry that is representative of all of Australia’s packaged liquor retailers, to ‘enhance our freedom to retail responsibly’.

“The regulatory environment continues to throw up challenges as Governments react to bureaucrat or community claims with ‘on the run’ policy changes and regulatory pressure, adding significant cost and inconvenience for retailers and consumers. Too often this is without sound evidence, stimulated by the well-funded temperance advocacy movement, and unfortunately without solving the issue in question.”

Speaking about the merger with RDA, Heilman added: “Today marks a significant moment in the Association’s evolution. This is an exciting and historic day and on behalf of the Board I thank our members for helping us to achieve this goal.

“This merger will add immediate and significant scale, breadth and capabilities to Retail Drinks Australia, to more effectively represent the needs and interests of members and the broader retail drinks industry. This is a merger of like organisations coming together – a merger of consolidation, not diversification. This merger isn’t just my personal judgment of how best to secure the future of the Association and sector, but represents the collective view of many industry stakeholders.

“This was a choice between embracing the evolutionary change our industry faces, or an attempt to preserve the status quo – this was a choice to lead, or to follow.

“LSA’s legacy is a legacy worth celebrating and preserving, and you can trust that it will not be forgotten, but recognised forevermore.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have served as the 11th (and final) President of the L, and I look forward to continuing to represent your needs and interests as a Foundation Board Member of your new national industry body, Retail Drinks Australia – to lead this great industry of ours forward into the future, and to protect our freedom to retail responsibly.”

The merger of LSA and RDA commenced immediately with all existing LSA employees being retained by RDA. The office and contact points remain unchanged and LSA memberships will transfer to RDA for the remainder of the financial year. RDA said that members will continue to receive regular communications throughout the transition and that all applicable services and benefits remain accessible to members.