One of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services — Danila Dilba — has launched a legal challenge against the NT Liquor Licensing director’s decision to approve Darwin’s first Dan Murphy’s store.
Danila Dilba chief executive Olga Havnen said the health service filed the case in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on Thursday, against the NT Liquor Licensing director and Woolworths Group, the outlet’s parent company.
“I think we have to use every available means to try and stop the development of this particular takeaway outlet,” Ms Havnen said.
“As people in Darwin would know, we are already confronted with a whole range of alcohol-related harms.”
Danila Dilba was one of several Aboriginal health groups angered by the Liquor Licensing director Philip Timney’s decision last December to approve Woolworths’ latest proposal for the liquor outlet, which would be the NT’s largest.
In court documents, Danila Dilba has claimed Mr Timney’s decision was riddled with legal errors and was “illogical and irrational” in parts.
Danila Dilba, represented by lawyers Maurice Blackburn, has asked the court to look at whether community views were properly considered.
The court challenge has also questioned whether the Liquor Licensing director had the relevant power to make his decision and wants it set aside.
Last year, the NT government rushed new laws through parliament to fast-track a decision on the Dan Murphy’s application after several years of failed attempts by Woolworths to get approval.
The laws effectively circumvented the independent NT Liquor Commission, which looks closely at whether applications are in the public interest and assesses their community impact.
The new process — which only applied to the Dan Murphy’s application and three others — also removed the right to review the Liquor Licensing director’s decision at tribunal-level.
In December last year, Woolworths announced the appointment of a panel — chaired by corporate lawyer Danny Gilbert — to review its proposed Darwin Dan Murphy’s development and report back to the supermarket giant’s board.
Woolworths promised it would not begin construction at its site across from McMillans Road until that process was complete.
The panel announced on Monday it would be meeting with concerned individuals and groups in Darwin this week, before hosting a community meeting.
Woolworths Group and the NT Government have been contacted for a response.