Retail Drinks Australia has said that while it does support the introduction of a risk-based licensing fee framework in the Northern Territory, the association does have some concerns with the current proposed scheme model.
Retail Drinks said it backs a fee framework that rewards compliant and good businesses and that targets irresponsible businesses, but its submissions to the NT Government raises some concerns about whether the proposed scheme model will actually achieve that aim.
Speaking about the proposed model, Retail Drinks CEO Julie Ryan said that the associations concerns include takeaway outlets not being provided with access to as many discounts as other outlet types and that the base fees for takeaway outlets are excessively high.
“A risk based licensing model is one that our members have operated under in other states and territories and we hope the NT Government will adopt an evidenced based approach and incorporate changes that reflect our insights from existing models,” Ryan said.
“The current proposed NT model sets excessively high fees that would actually require NT businesses to pay much more than their equivalents in other states.
“There is no evidence to support the theory that stores are higher risk than other outlets, or that certain business models are more risky than others.
Ryan added: “The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education this week alleged there is evidence that chain stores contribute more harm and yet their own researcher, Michael Livingstone, said the complete opposite – that there is no significant relationship between liquor outlets and levels of harm. He states ‘Hotels and taverns were found to have a positive relationship to levels of harm whilst packaged liquor outlets were found to have no significant relationship’.
“Liquor stores also have staff with an RSA like a hotel and in many cases our members actually implement a range of voluntary measures above what is required by the law – they are the most compliant not the least.
“Our members should be rewarded for their robust compliance systems and the employment opportunities that successful businesses present for the Territory, not punished because of bias against them.
“Risk based models should assess businesses based on factual and evidentiary criteria, not emotive or anti-competitive rhetoric,” Ryan said.
In its submission to the NT Department of Business, Trade and Innovation, Retail Drinks asked for the Alcohol Secure Grants to be extended to any compliance works needed to meet the requirements of the announced changes to the Liquor Act. The association also said that asking small business to absorb such high fees and make all the proposed business model changes recommended by the Riley Review, “could send many to ruin”.