Woolworths’ decision to abandon its plans to build an alcohol megastore near the community of Bagot in Darwin is an acknowledgement of the significant harm the store would cause the community.
This is a huge community victory after years of poor consultation and lack of empathy for community concerns from one of the nation’s biggest corporations.
The outcome is a result of many years of advocacy from community members and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health and community organisations who have been fighting for what is right.
Woolworths must now guarantee that they will retain the licence and not pass it over to Endeavour Group, their alcohol subsidiary, to try again to build this store after the planned demerger.
Until Woolworths confirms they will retain the liquor licence, the possibility of a Dan Murphy’s being built in the greater Darwin area will remain.
Woolworths cannot leave the back door open for another application in the months and years ahead by themselves or their alcohol arm Endeavour Group.
This is an important opportunity for Woolworths and other big alcohol retailers to re-assess their community consultation processes and acknowledge the harms their stores do to so many communities across Australia.
Communities should not need to fight so hard for so long ever again – this a unique opportunity for a re-set of liquor store approval processes in the Northern Territory and indeed across the country.
Woolworths must publish the Gilbert Review immediately and disclose their plans to adopt its recommendations to prove that they are serious about open disclosure.