By Amy Looker

South Australian retailers and hoteliers have launched a campaign against a State Government proposal to allow supermarkets to sell wine.

The South Australian Liquor Stores Association (SALSA) and the Australian Hotels Association of South Australia (AHA SA) launched the 'Let's Draw The Line' campaign yesterday, calling for the government and community to consider the proposal's impact on independent liquor retailers.

The proposal provides that supermarkets with a minimum of 400sqm floor space could apply for a licence to sell bottled wine only.

This would apply to giants Coles and Woolworths along with Foodland, IGA, and Aldi, and potentially larger service stations and convenience stores.

In the discussion paper, released in late January, the South Australian minister for business services and consumers, John Rau, said the proposal has been designed to benefit local wineries and grocery retailers.

"Many of our local wineries are unable to compete or meet with the demands placed upon them by some liquor retailers," Rau said.

"This new class of liquor licence will open up new opportunities in the market for these winemakers."

However, Wendy Bevan from the AHA SA said the proposal gives “open slather” to supermarkets to go after wine sales to the detriment of liquor retailers without the promise of ongoing support or benefit to the South Australian wine industry.

“This proposal will force the largely independent liquor retailers across the state to close or sack staff to survive,” Bevan said.  

“These are the specialist wine shops that currently support SA wine. At the same time it must further empower the national chains likes Coles and Woolworth to exercise even greater influence in the marketplace.”

SALSA president, Breck Waterman, told TheShout that another concern is the increase in liquor licences across the state, which already has the highest number of licences per capita in the country.

“You’re talking about hundreds of licenses across the state. We have more licenses per capita here than any other state or territory in the nation at one for every 224 people,” Waterman said. 

“The independent bottleshops and the hotel-attached bottleshops support small wine producers – that’s how we compete with the chains and this is really going to hurt our businesses.”

“It seems out of whack. What happened to the Aussie battler? When you consider that most territories and governments are trying to tighten up liquor licensing laws, it’s amazing that this government appears to be loosening the laws, going against the national trend.”

The closing date for submissions on the proposal is Friday 1 March. 

The Shout Team

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

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1 Comment

  1. How can Minister Rau seriously say this decision will on one hand will benefit local wineries and on the other will too benefit grocery retailers? That statement in itself is contradictory. Local wineries will be screwed on price, independent retailers will be pushed to the brink and large supermarket chains will claim another scalp.

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