The State Government’s proposed restrictions on liquor outlets is anti-competitive, will cost jobs, lacks an understanding of the threat of online stores to retail and has no evidence of health-related harm to back it up.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) Chief Executive Officer Chris Rodwell said the Government’s proposed restrictions on new liquor stores and bottle shops over 400 square metres are anti-competitive – supporting existing footprints instead of encouraging competition that will boost economic prosperity.
“To date, no evidence has been provided by the State Government to support claims that restricting the size of a liquor outlet or the number of outlets in one location reduces alcohol-related harm in the community,” Mr Rodwell said.
“You don’t see Harvey Norman or the Good Guys being told to restrict their store size. There’s no justifiable reason why the liquor retail industry should be singled out when smart regulation for the responsible service of alcohol is already in place.
“The retail sector is already facing extraordinary disruption, which for those with a model based around physical site presence, often requires that they can achieve greater scale.
“The State Government has claimed that they want to boost local jobs, but all they are doing is encouraging businesses that want to invest in our state and our communities to go east or online.”
Endeavour Drinks Group (EDG) have stated that before the Government’s proposed legislation was introduced, they planned to invest $85 million across more than 35 store developments in WA over the next 10 years, creating more than 600 direct store jobs, hundreds of construction jobs and many more indirect jobs.
“This is investment in WA’s retail sector and our economy that the Government should be encouraging, not stifling,” Mr Rodwell said.
“CCI has welcomed proposed reforms of WA’s liquor licencing laws that will give small businesses the flexibility they need to create jobs and meet consumer demand, and encourage Perth’s small bar scene to flourish.
“We also welcomed the Government’s announcement that Tourism Western Australia’s Chief Executive Officer will be given equal consideration to assessing liquor licensing applications.
“These are positive steps forward which will go a long way toward resetting WA’s tourism agenda which has been lagging behind other states.
“It is incomprehensible that at the same time the Government is progressing WA’s liquor reform agenda, the same Bill seeks to squash competition with no industry consultation.
“CCI encourages the State Government to show good faith by engaging with industry to develop reform measures that will benefit our state, not put us further behind.”