Concerns raised over liquor outlet

ALCOHOL was very much on the agenda at Thursday night’s meeting of the Nambucca Shire Council.

Councillors weren’t raiding the staff liquor cabinet but rather spent time listening to alarming claims about the impact of alcohol on the local community.

At issue was whether the council should or could join the fight against the licensing of a new drive-through liquor outlet at Nambucca Heads.

Late last year the council approved a development application (DA) for Woolworth’s subsidiary, BWS, to establish the outlet in Riverside Drive at Nambucca Heads, just off the highway and opposite the tourist information centre.

Residents are now rallying against the application before the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority for BWS to be granted a liquor licence.

Neryl Stuart told the council the drive-through would have a devastating impact.

“The Nambucca already has a well-documented and major problem with alcohol-related crime, drink driving and assault, and yet the Community Impact Statement accompanying the licensing application submitted by BWS doesn’t paint the full picture,” Ms Stuart said.

“Lots of people have already lodged objections with the authority but we want the council to support the schools, churches and community groups by submitting its own objection against the granting of a licence to BWS.”

Councillor Michael Moran said the request wasn’t easy to fulfil.

“Council considered and passed the DA but our powers don’t extend to licensing,” he said.

“It would seem that having approved the DA we’d be contradicting ourselves by now objecting to a licence being issued.”

Louise Robinson from the Nambucca Aboriginal Land Council also appealed for the council to support the community.

“BWS is a very large multi-national that makes money by discounting and moving huge volumes of alcohol,” Ms Robinson said. “That discounting encourages excessive drinking.

“This council already acknowledged the extent of the alcohol problem by applying for and getting an $80,000 ‘Drink Don’t Sink’ grant and so should submit its own objection against the licensing application.”

While Cr Anne Smyth pointed out that alcohol-related crime levels on the Nambucca are 50 per cent above the State average and Cr Martin Ballangarry argued against increasing the availability of cheap alcohol, Cr Brian Finlayson wondered whether the BWS outlet would exacerbate the problem.

“I don’t know whether it will or not and I’m not sure that responsible drinkers should be deprived of the opportunities presented by BWS,” he said.

It was resolved that while council would not formally object to the licensing application it would write a letter to the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority pointing out the continuing community concern about the proposal.

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