Bottleshop proposal refused

Sebastian Neuweiler, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian
The West logo

A controversial proposal for a liquor store at Utakarra will not go ahead, following refusal from the State’s director of liquor licensing.

The application was lodged by Peter Jeffree, the sole shareholder and owner of PDJ Geraldton Pty Ltd.

In his submission, Mr Jeffree cited figures from 2011 and the City’s Strategy Plan, which showed Geraldton had the seventh-highest recorded population growth of the nation’s 70 largest growth areas, and tipped the population to grow to between 50,000 and 100,000 in the next 20 years.

He argued it was in the public interest to supply a liquor outlet which would “provide products not available at any other WA packaged liquor outlet”, as well as competitive pricing which would offer products at “well below” existing Geraldton prices.

Mr Jeffree also submitted a Public Interest Assessment, Environmental and Health Report and Town Planning Report as part of his application.

However, the proposal received universal criticism, drawing objection from the police commissioner, local and State government and multiple local organisations and agencies.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan objected to the application on the grounds that the grant of the application would not be in the public interest and would cause undue harm or ill-health.

Data on existing crime rates in the suburbs of Utakarra, Rangeway and Karloo was also submitted, showing the levels of alcohol-related harm experienced in these suburbs was already at an unacceptable level, and the introduction of a large format liquor outlet would increase the availability of alcohol resulting in greater harm in the community.

The commissioner also argued much of the applicant’s supporting documentation was outdated and had not been adjusted to reflect the downturn in the local industry.

Similarly, Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney, Member for the Agricultural Region Paul Brown and Willcock Ward councillor Richard de Trafford put forward that a discount, high-volume liquor outlet had the potential to exacerbate existing crime and anti-social behaviour, and inflame tensions within the local community.

Local organisations and associations Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation, Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation and the Utakarra, Karloo Progress Association argued high levels of domestic violence, suicide, mental health and criminal acts in the community were caused by severe drug and alcohol addictions.

They said competition would lead to lower-priced deals and would further facilitate these addiction problems.

In his deliberation, Delegate Director of Liquor Licensing Peter Minchin said greater weight should be given to the welfare of the local community over the benefits of cheaper-priced liquor, range of products and diversity of choice, thus refusing the application.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails