In June 2016, the WA liquor licensing authority’s Peter Minchin delivered this horribly conceived and pathetic decision on Aldi’s liquor licence application for its Harrisdale store.
The latest WA liquor licensing fiasco surrounding retailer Aldi provides yet another example of ill-conceived and wasteful government intervention. This time, the main argument is that Aldi wants to sell its liquor too cheaply. No, I’m not joking…
…To be fair, artificial price control was only one of the reasons given by the liquor authority for knocking back Aldi’s application. What can only be described as ‘promotion of general communistic principle’ was another:
An application by the Woolworths-owned BWS two months before Aldi’s application in the same new Harrisdale shopping complex was successful…
It found it was neither “necessary nor desirable” for another liquor store to operate in one shopping centre.
…Since when has necessity been a relevant requirement for opening a liquor store?
That aside, the WA liquor authority now seems to think that it’s ‘desirable’ for shopping centres to have only one liquor store – with the sole liquor trader enjoying the benefits of a government created monopoly. Why Harrisdale shopping centre was singled out for such treatment (when there are countless other shopping centres throughout Perth with multiple liquor stores that have been approved by the same authority) is completely beyond me.
…Putting the price furphy aside, the question must be asked: why is a serious competitor to Woolworths being denied access to this area?
Why did Woolworths encounter absolutely no opposition to its application in the same shopping centre (see paragraph 2 of the decision), while Aldi’s application was objected to or intervened in by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, the Executive Director Public Health and the Commissioner of Police?
There is only a single material difference one can point to in this respect. BWS is a dedicated liquor store owned and run by a supermarket company (Woolworths) which often joins its supermarkets and liquor stores together for one-stop shopping. Aldi on the other hand has the temerity to want to combine the two into one store and ditch the pretence. You know, like many other places in the free world…
…I can only imagine that the thinking of the liquor authority and the social justice objectors must go something like this:
By declining Aldi’s application, problem drinkers in the area can now breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t be tempted with any cheap alcohol while shopping at Aldi. Instead, they will have to suffer the inconvenience of walking to the BWS next door or driving down the road to Dan Murphy’s. They’ll never do this as it’s way too much effort and they’ll have little choice but to substantially cut their drinking or quit altogether, particularly given BWS’s super high prices. This will reduce the local crime rate** and will make us feel good about ourselves.
Regular people with convenience and competition issues may raise concerns about this decision. When people do complain then we can very calmly and graciously say, ‘You know what? We’re doing it anyway, tough luck’!
The appeal was inevitable and has been mercifully upheld:
Aldi has had a big win in its bid to sell booze, with the Liquor Commission granting the supermarket giant a licence allowing it to sell alcohol at its Harrisdale store after a successful appeal.
The Director for Liquor Licensing had rejected Aldi’s proposal to sell wine priced below $5 a bottle and three varieties at $2.79 at the southern suburbs outlet — despite a Woolworths liquor store in the same shopping centre being approved.
But the Liquor Commission ruled that the two applications should not have been treated as competing, and granted Aldi the right to sell its low-priced wine, beer and spirits.
Predictably, there are sour grapes on the part of the social justice brigade as they continue to oppose other applications made by Aldi:
McCusker centre executive director Julia Stafford voiced fears cheap booze would target the young and problem drinkers.
She said it would set a dangerous precedent for the sale of alcohol in other WA supermarkets.
The McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, the Director for Public Health and the Police Commissioner objected to the Joondalup application.
It’s been nearly a year since I wrote the following – and nothing has changed since:
All that’s missing now is to clad every liquor store with cigarette style health warnings and pictures so that everyone can feel suitably ashamed of themselves when they walk in.
The further disgrace in all of this is that, rightly or wrongly, many people are bitterly complaining about the cost of living – and it’s social justice campaigners and government bodies like the ones in this story that keep making basic things more expensive: by both increasing the overhead expenses of retailers and by taking home their government funded pay check at the taxpayer’s expense on matters they never should have been involved in.
(*) TMR doesn’t shop at Harrisdale and probably never will, but that doesn’t mean the good people of Harrisdale shouldn’t enjoy Aldi’s criminally low prices.
(**) Yes, really, see paragraph 62 of the decision, fourth bullet point.