14 April 2023

Regulator blocks Dan Murphy's from opening Griffith store due to high domestic violence rates

| Oliver Jacques
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Construction site next to Griff Hotel

Dan Murphy’s plans for a new store at 75-77 Yambil Street have been blocked. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Alcohol retailer Dan Murphy’s has been prevented from establishing a new store in Griffith, with the state regulator citing the town’s high domestic assault rates and high Indigenous population as reasons for its decision to deny the company a local liquor licence.

The popular beer, wine and spirits store has been trying to establish a presence in Griffith since 2020. After overcoming a few roadblocks, Griffith City Council approved its development application in June 2022, on the vacant lot 75-77 Yambil Street, next to the Griff Hotel.

But the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) then rejected its application for a packaged liquor licence, which denied Dan Murphy’s the right to sell takeaway alcohol.

“In making licensing determinations, the Authority places significant weight on crime data such as alcohol-related domestic assault rates and identification of crime hotspots in suburbs and the wider Local Government Area,” an ILGA spokesperson told Region.

“This data was a key contributing factor in the Authority’s decision to refuse the application.”

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A spokesperson for Endeavour Group, the parent company of Dan Murphy’s, said: “We have not sought an appeal and respectfully accept this decision.”

“We take our responsible service obligations very seriously and have a strong track record in this space over many decades. As part of this, we have always worked in close consultation with local police and community groups.”

In justifying its decision, ILGA noted: “There are significantly higher crime rates in both Griffith and Griffith LGA [Local Government Area] for domestic and non-domestic assault and malicious damage to property, and higher crime rates for alcohol-related offensive conduct, compared to NSW.”

The Authority also stated: “The proposed business model is a large-scale discount featured bottle shop in a suburb and LGA with higher-than-average crime rates and a higher-than-average vulnerable population … including a higher proportion of Indigenous persons in Griffith and Griffith LGA compared to NSW.”

While the ILGA considered arguments in favour of Dan Murphy’s, including six submissions and a petition supporting the application, it ruled it was not satisfied that the “overall social impact of granting the licence” would be positive.

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Griffith currently has five established alcohol retailers but has never had a Dan Murphy’s, a store known for its extensive selection of international brands. It has 262 stores Australia-wide; the closest to Griffith is a two-hour drive away in Wagga.

Pat Cox, chair of Griffith’s Community Drug Action Team (CDAT), who develops local initiatives to reduce alcohol and drug misuse, said she met with Endeavour Group when they were progressing its application.

“Initially, we weren’t prepared to support it,” she said. “It was in a spot where people could easily access alcohol, where there had been a lot of incidents… we have also heard some alarming statistics about domestic violence.”

She said that while Endeavour Group did address some of CDAT’s concerns, she’s satisfied with the ILGA’s final decision.

“I don’t think we need any more takeaway liquor outlets myself, Billabong operates long hours, there’s Woolies and Rossies, there’s enough places to buy it.”

Vickie Louise Simpson, Regional Alcohol and Other Drugs Coordinator of the Aboriginal Medical Service, also expressed general support for the ILGA decision, saying a new alcohol store was “probably not ideal”.

She said alcohol and cannabis abuse were growing problems in the region.

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ILGA also noted Griffith’s ALDI supermarket was denied a liquor licence in 2017. The authority added there are no further liquor licence applications active for the town.

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