War is brewing over controversial Dan Murphy's store
THE NT Liquor Commission's 15-person board has considered resigning after the Gunner Government last night outlined a plan to circumvent the commission and hand a decision on a proposed Dan Murphy's to the government's director of liquor licensing.
According to an ABC report, the head of the NT's independent Liquor Commission Richard Coates said the government's plan to fast-track the Dan Murphy's decision did not allow for proper consideration of the health impacts of the outlet.
Mr Coates said he and other members of the Liquor Commission's person board had considered resigning over the government's move to override the commission's decision.
"I think some of the commissioners - using Mr Gunner's parlance - feel the reform bill has been a 'kick in the guts' to the hard work they've done administering this complex legislative regime, which is the Northern Territory's new Liquor Act," he told the ABC.
The chairman of the commission says the new laws are wrong and undermine public trust in the system.
Last year the Liquor Commission, chaired by Mr Coates, rejected an application by Endeavour Drinks Group (EDG) to set up the Dan Murphy's outlet in Darwin.
Under the new legislation, passed on urgency by Parliament last night, the director must make their decision within 30 days and is not required to consider community impact.
Mr Coates told the ABC the government's new laws would not allow for proper consideration of public health impacts.
"In my view it can't, especially in relation to this bill - it removes the requirement that everyone else has got to abide by and that is the onus is on the applicant to prove that the application is in the public interest," Mr Coates said.
"This bill takes that away from this application."
Mr Coates said the government's new amendments, introduced by Small Business Minister Paul Kirby, would undermine public trust in the system.
"I feel the Government's actions are wrong," Mr Coates said.
"(The change) gives the impression that here we have the Minister for Small Business, giving big business a leg up. So the same rules that apply to the other operators in the NT, don't apply to them.
"They don't have to satisfy the commission or the independent body that the particular application is in the public interest.
"We've now got Darwin's biggest liquor outlet ever - and one of the biggest ever in Australia proposed coming to Darwin - which hasn't had the same scrutiny and the same rules applied to it that everyone else has got to abide by."
Mr Coates said even with the proposed new location, the proposal should not bypass the independent Liquor Commission.
"The proposals should be subject to the same sort of rigour that everyone else is subject to and the public interest criteria should still apply to this new location," he said.
Originally published as Liquor Commission board threatens to resign over Dan Murphy's