Community questions transfer of liquor licence to Bermagui Woolworths

Community members are again questioning an application to open a BWS in Bermagui. Picture: Peter Rae
Community members are again questioning an application to open a BWS in Bermagui. Picture: Peter Rae

Community members are again questioning an application to open a controversial alcohol retailer right in the heart of Bermagui.

A move to transfer a liquor licence from Pam’s Store in Tilba Tilba to Bermagui for the creation of a Woolworths’ Beer, Wine and Spirits outlet, is currently being processed by Liquor and Gaming NSW after an application was received on May 4.

In 2015 an application by Woolworths for an alcohol retailer in Bermagui was refused by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, and in 2016 moves were made for the transfer and the completion of a compulsory Community Impact Statement.

Chairman of the Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council Ken Campbell said the community voted unanimously at a meeting last week for the licence not to be transferred.

“They [the applicants] told us at the meeting they had the okay from a few Elders, but the Elders and community at the meeting voted unanimously against it,” Mr Campbell said.

“I’d like to know who they’ve spoken to, because every single Koori in the area said no.”

The controversy stems back to 2014, when a development application by Woolworths construction arm Fabcot was, by way of a 5-4 vote, approved by council for a supermarket, car park and two retail shops. It was the second application put to council after a liquor outlet had been removed from the original plans. The first DA had also been taken to the Land and Environment Court by the community.

“They aren’t taking no for an answer, because we all said no the first time, and the second, but they won’t stop,” Mr Campbell said.

“There’s too many ways to buy grog in Bermagui now, and the whole community is deadset against it. You’ve got the restaurants, the club, the pub and the bottle-shop, so why would you want one at Woolies?”

Liquor and Gaming NSW said once the application is processed it, along with the Community Impact Statement, will appear on their website for 30 days for public submissions, after which it will be considered by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Board.

When determining applications the authority must consider all relevant impacts on local communities. A spokesperson said the community has the opportunity to have a say during the 30 day submission period.

“Liquor and Gaming NSW has a dedicated community access team who are committed to improving the understanding of, and access to, local licensing decisions for community stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

“The community access team works with the community to ensure they understand the application process and are aware they have the opportunity to have their say during the 30 day submission period.”