By James Atkinson

Woolworths' legal battles with Western Australian liquor authorities have continued with the Supreme Court rejection of its bid to open a Dan Murphy's store in Rockingham.

Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group (ALH) sought to develop an additional building to accommodate a Dan Murphy's liquor outlet on the land where its Leisure Inn pub is located.

Rather than seeking a new licence for the liquor store, the Woolworths majority-owned company sought a redefinition of the licensed premises such that the existing hotel licence would be extended to cover the new store.

WA's Director of Liquor Licensing rejected this approach in June last year. When ALH appealed the decision immediately after, the Liquor Commission took the same view. 

ALH was last week rejected a third time when the Supreme Court of Western Australia upheld the earlier rulings, which hinged on whether the application constituted a 'redefinition' of licensed premises, and whether the new Dan Murphy's outlet would be 'contiguous' with the existing licensed premises.

Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Eddie Watling said the tactic taken by ALH in Rockingham "was clearly a situation where a separate and distinct liquor store was being established by the appellant without an application for a liquor store licence being made".

If successful, he said ALH would have avoided the requirement to satisfy the licensing authority that the grant of the application was in the public interest, which it would have been required to do if it had applied for a separate liquor store licence.

"Such an effect is contrary to the licensing scheme established by the Act," he said, dismissing the appeal.

It was Deputy Chairman Watling who gave Woolworths the nod earlier this year to open Dan Murphy's stores in Cannington and in Canning Vale, in the face of strong opposition from health authorities.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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