By Ian Neubauer

Licensing officials in Western Australia have extended a six-month ban on full- and mid-strength packaged liquor in Fitzroy Crossing.

The Kimberley town made headlines last September after it was revealed its only bottle shop, the Crossing Inn, was moving half a million litres of take-away beer annually in an area inhabited by 3000 people.

Following calls for prohibition from an indigenous women’s group, licensing officials slapped the Crossing Inn with a six-month ban on the sale of all packaged liquor with an ABV greater than 2.7 per cent. The WA Government then commissioned the University of Notre Dame to evaluate the effects of the ban, which expires today.

Released last week, the study said significant health and social benefits have resulted from the ban.

However, the report added that a number of local businesses have reported increased difficulties and loss of revenue they attributed to the ban. It was also noted that a number of residents considered their democratic rights as Australians had been impeached by restricting their ability to purchase alcohol.

The WA Director of Liquor Licensing, Barry Sargeant, announced this week he would extend the ban until May 23 to allow the Crossing Inn adequate time to respond to the report before a final decision is made in regard to the ban.

“Evaluating the Drug and Alcohol Office’s report is an important factor in determining the status of the conditions that are currently imposed on the licensee of the Crossing Inn,” Sargeant said. “Providing the licensee with adequate opportunities to respond to the report is an important aspect of ensuring the process of natural justice is applied.”

Co-licensee of the Crossing Inn, Wayne Bowen, said he and his partners would provide a written submission to the report prior to the department’s April 24 deadline.

“We only received the report this week. It’s 112 pages so we are currently going through it and having a good look at what it is saying to see exactly what it’s about, and what merit it has,” he said.

The Shout Team

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

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