Championing the cause of corner stores

29 November 2018

The Labor Government must start treating small businesses needs seriously.

In Parliament today, the Opposition tabled a petition of more than 1400 signatures objecting to the government’s plans for limiting the business of family stores which sell grocery and alcohol.

The petition states: "Proposed new laws would slash the already tight limits on how much alcohol small businesses can sell, restricting hard working families’ ability to service communities…If these laws go ahead, not only will local shops suffer, their communities will have less access to food and everyday essentials."

Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said this was yet another example of the government’s bungling of alcohol reform.

"They are punishing small family owned businesses instead of going to the heart of alcohol demand," Ms Finocchiaro said.

"We feel for these small businesses who are doing the right thing and trying to make a living in an already depressed economy.

"Government has failed to consult in any meaningful way – having a meeting to tell people what they’re doing is NOT consultation."

Retail Drinks Australia Northern Territory branch representative Faye Hartley said the issues for corner stores were real and should not be dismissed.

"We need Government and the public to understand, we are being unfairly targeted and there has been insufficient consultation with the affected businesses," Ms Hartley said.

"Only grocery licences are affected by the government’s proposed changes – bottle shops, drive throughs are not facing the same restrictions and yet some of those businesses sell some grocery items like milk and snack foods.

"We agree that bad operators should be targeted but the government wants to punish us all. 2

"Risk based licensing would already target bad operators – these additional measures are harsh and totally unwarranted.

"There are hundreds of takeaway licences which operate for longer trading hours than store licences, and face no restrictions at all."

Retail Drinks Australia says that the proposed changes to small stores violate the principles of the Australian Government Guide to Regulation, the most important of which is that there must be a net benefit to any new policy.

Retail Drinks CEO Julie Ryan says:

"We have repeatedly asked for the evidence small stores are a problem and that these measures will meaningfully reduce alcohol related harm, but the reality is that the government has never answered because there is no evidence.

"This is bad policy and lazy policy – targeting all small stores instead of just those who are doing the wrong thing.

"There is no net benefit to hurting hundreds of Territorian small business owners and workers, and thousands of Territorians who rely on the convenience of small stores every week"