The delegate of the Director of Liquor Licensing (WA) recently refused an application for a liquor store licence in the small regional town of Moora.  In addition to the interventions lodged by the Executive Director of Public Health and Commissioner of Police, 97 resident objectors rallied together to oppose the new liquor store application in their town.

The applicant was seeking to establish a liquor store at the front of his existing supermarket in order to provide one stop shopping convenience for his customers, who would be able to purchase their grocery items and liquor at the one venue. The main underlying motivation for the application appeared to be the convenience of one-stop shopping for patrons of the supermarket. However, in this decision, it was found that the applicant misapplied the concept of one-stop shopping and overstated its significance in the context of the application.

The delegate referred to various decisions noting the argument of one-stop shopping is diminished in a rural context as the various retail outlets and other public utility outlets accessed by the public on a daily and weekly basis are generally more dispersed over a relatively small area comprising the town and not concentrated in a large single suburban shopping centre.  Although the applicant’s consumer data indicated some members of the community may find it more convenient to purchase liquor at the applicant’s proposed liquor store, it was found that an increase in conveniences alone is insufficient to demonstrate that an application for a liquor store licence is in the public interest.

The evidence put forward by the interveners and objectors established that Moora currently experiences elevated rates of alcohol-related harm and that the grant of the application had the potential to negatively impact on the local community through the increased availability of packaged liquor.  In weighing this against the marginal benefits of granting the liquor store application, the delegate determined that it presented an unacceptable risk.

In refusing the application, the delegate also took into account that the town of Moora is already well serviced with packaged liquor outlets and the unnecessary proliferation of liquor outlets in Moora would not be consistent with the harm minimisation object of the Liquor Control Act 1988 and therefore would not in the public interest.

Jarrod Ryan and Alyce Cassettai now at Ryan & Co Solicitors represented the resident objectors throughout the process.  The result shows that when a community comes together, they can ensure that the best interests of the town are taken into account.