Woolworths – owner of Dan Murphy’s – is a company that is used to getting what it wants, as Mullumbimby discovered when the supermarket giant insisted on jumping the development queue and built in Station Street before sewer connection was available.
This time, the liquor giant was so confident of securing its Byron licence that it signed a 25-year lease with the owner of the Jonson Street premises before approval.
While the state government is ideologically, commercially and politically aligned with developers, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) – which rejected Dan Murphy’s – is thankfully a genuinely independent body.
Its chairperson, Chris Sidoti, has been Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995–2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992–1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987–1992).
Can the the NSW planning department’s Joint Regional Planning Panel boast such quality of independence?
As some may know, Woolworths also makes significant profit from poker-machine addicts. But a new study by activist group GetUp! says it targets socially disadvantaged areas (see www. getup.org.au/profiting-from-poverty).
Farmers squeezed by a tightening supermarket duopoly and alarming suicide rates in the bush are rarely reported in the national press; its newspages are instead filled with colourful full- page ads by Coles and Woolies undercutting each other.
With retail, perpetuating the illusion that cheap is always best only serves the retailer and consumer, not the producer.
Competition, while a bedrock of western prosperity, has diabolical consequences if it isn’t regulated or examined. One could well expect a renewed liquor licence application from Dan Murphy’s in due course, if not a supreme court challenge. With unlimited legal funds available, why wouldn’t they?