While Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan says Colonial Brewing changing its name would be “taking it a bit far” and LSA WA CEO Peter Peck said calls for change were “nuts” the brewer has said it is reviewing its name right now.
Calls for a name change have escalated recently and resulted in Victorian bottle shop chain Blackhearts & Sparrows pulling the beer from its shelves, but Colonial’s Managing Director it is taking a balanced approach to a naming review.
“We’re reviewing everything right now, but we have to listen to this minority because there is a bigger issue at stake, so we are going to assess everything and make a call on it soon,” Dowd told Channel 9’s Today program this morning.
He added: “We have to take this backlash on-board, we would be remiss not to, we have to listen to the minorities, we have to do that as a business these days, but we are taking a balanced approach and we’ll make sure we can make the right call on this.”
Dowd explained that the name came from its position as a new brewer in Margaret River, rather than any historical consideration.
“Colonial started in 2004 and it was one of the first microbreweries to establish itself in Margaret River, a very famous wine region. So they were basically colonising a beer company in a very famous wine region and that’s where the name came from and there was no malice in the name and starting the business up in that way.
“It certainly hasn’t been part of our narrative to celebrate colonialism or imperialism, so it’s hard to be drawn into that.”
Dowd also said: “One chain of stores in Melbourne has made the call not to stock our beer and they’ve copped a bit of a backlash so I do feel for them, but we’ve had overwhelming support from acorss the country from all of our partners which is very pleasing.”
Peter Peck CEO of Liquor Stores Association WA described the calls for a name change as a totally knee-jerk reaction, “because I can’t see how this is going to make any difference at all to Black Lives Matter or indigenous Australians”.
He said: “I think it’s nuts. If we go down this road then it’s time for Colonial State Mutual to change its name, everybody let’s leave James Cook University because it’s offensive and I suggest Premier McGowan starts putting tents up at Langley Park for all the people leaving Queensland because they find the name of their state offensive, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“[Colonial Brewing Co] were well and truly ahead of the curve on this and they have been looking at the name for about six months, obviously the blogger who started this didn’t bother to talk to anyone, he just decided to make something sensational so that people would look at his Twitter and Instagram account.
“If they decide the name doesn’t suit what their product is or the way that their business is moving then that’s a business decision anyone would make. I do know they are engaging with first Australians with regard to this and they are going through a process, this is penalising somebody who is actually doing the right thing and doing due diligence where they see it.”
In a statement about taking the beer from its shelves Blackhearts & Sparrows said: “While we appreciate that the people behind Colonial Brewing [Co] had no malicious intent in their choice of brand name, words have power.
“‘Colonial’ is still a problematic word that speaks to a broader history of colonialism and colonisation, which has caused irreversible harm to the First Nations people in Australia and Indigenous populations around the world.
“After many discussions within our team, we decided that if we could make our stores a more inclusive place for all by pulling a line of beer from the shelves, that was a step that we were of course willing to take.”