Retail Drinks Australia (RDA) has collected more than 1,400 signatures in support of small independent retailers in the Northern Territory.  

The RDA launched the petition, which was supported by TheShout, branding the NT Government as being ‘drunk on power’ over its Alcohol Secure scheme, and calling for public support.

As a result, the NT Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro tabled the 1,400 signatures in Parliament on Thursday 29 November, calling for the matter to be referred to committee for review. The committee will now report back to Parliament in February of next year.

The Deputy Opposition leader said this was yet another example of the government’s bungling of alcohol reform.

“They are punishing small family-owned businesses instead of going to the heart of alcohol demand,” Finocchiaro said.

“We feel for these small businesses who are doing the right thing and trying to make a living in an already depressed economy.

“Government has failed to consult in any meaningful way – having a meeting to tell people what they’re doing is not consultation.”

RDA’s NT branch representative Faye Hartley said the issues for corner stores were real and should not be dismissed.

“We need government and the public to understand, we are being unfairly targeted and there has been insufficient consultation with the affected businesses,” she said.

“Only grocery licences are affected by the government’s proposed changes – not any other takeaway licence type even though many of those businesses sell some grocery items like milk and snack foods.

“We agree that bad operators should be targeted but the government wants to punish us all.

“Risk-based licensing would already target bad operators – these additional measures are harsh and totally unwarranted.

“There are hundreds of takeaway licences which operate for longer trading hours than store licences, and face no restrictions at all.”

RDA says that the proposed changes to small stores violate the principles of the Australian Government Guide to Regulation, the most important of which is that there must be a net benefit to any new policy.

RDA’s CEO Julie Ryan says that it is unfair to target all NT small business owners for the wrongdoing of a few, and thanked the industry for the overwhelming show of support.

“We have repeatedly asked for the evidence small stores are a problem and that these measures will meaningfully reduce alcohol related harm, but the reality is that the government has never answered because there is no evidence.

“This is bad policy and lazy policy – targeting all small stores instead of just those who are doing the wrong thing.

“There is no net benefit to hurting hundreds of Territorian small business owners and workers, and thousands of Territorians who rely on the convenience of small stores every week.

“We are extremely grateful to all of industry for banding together to support NT independent retailers.”

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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