Dan Murphy’s bid for NT launch gets welcome boost from state government

Liquor retailer Dan Murphy’s could soon be a step closer to opening its first store in the Northern Territory after the state government took preliminary steps to amend the Liquor Act on Thursday.

The retailer has faced a number of hurdles in its attempts to launch in the state, most recently in December when it was knocked back by the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

The NTCAT ruled that a liquor licence could not be transferred from an existing outlet to one that was yet to be built under state law.

However, if the Liquor Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament on Thursday is passed it would allow retailers to substitute their liquor licence in these cases.

Shane Tremble, general manager corporate services, Endeavour Group welcomed the introduction of the bill.

“On the face of it the legislation tabled [on Thursday] would appear to clearly address the issues around the proposed substitution of the licence that led to the NTCAT refusal decision in December,” Tremble said.

“It also fulfills the Government’s commitment to clarify the original intent of the legislation.”

Endeavour Group’s lawyers received the bill late on Thursday afternoon and are still reviewing the proposed legislation, however Tremble said a couple of things are clear.

“If the Bill is passed in its current form it will mean that we will return to NTCAT for another hearing,” Tremble said.

“This new proceeding will determine whether we can bring the Dan Murphy’s brand to Darwin.”

The Government has set a deadline of March 2 for submissions on the proposed legislation. The Bill will then go to Committee before a vote.

Endeavour Group is also currently appealing the NTCAT’s December decision in the Supreme Court, with the appeal due to be heard on February 21. Tremble said it is unlikely the Bill will be passed before then.

He said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on any impact of the Supreme Court appeal as it is still underway and the new legislation has not been enacted.

Dan Murphy’s has also faced challenges by the Northern Territory Liquor Commission relating to the first proposed store.

In September, the Commission rejected the retailer’s plans to open a Darwin outlet, on Bagot Road at Eaton, over fears its presence would increase the risk of alcohol-related harm in nearby Aboriginal communities.

While the commission was not opposed to the retailer opening a store in Darwin, the proposed location was deemed inappropriate.

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