Drink Tank

Woolworths Limited – shoot first and ask questions later

There is something disquieting about the way Woolworths Limited vehemently challenges those who stand in the way of the development of a Dan Murphy’s in Darwin.

The lack of compassion and caution, and not even the pretence of corporate responsibility is troubling. It sends a very clear and palpable signal that Woolworths Limited doesn’t give a damn.

Public health and medical experts stand united in opposing the Dan Murphy’s development in Darwin. Our argument is a simple, but compelling one. Alcohol harm is already too high in the Northern Territory. So too is the ratio of existing licensed venues. Lastly, the relationship between large packaged liquor outlets and alcohol harm is very clear.

The Northern Territory Government agreed, blocking the development while also undertaking a far-reaching and comprehensive review.

Yet Woolworths Limited’s response is to repeatedly rubbish the evidence.

Given the chance, Woolworths Limited would build the new Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin tomorrow. Shoot first and ask questions later, the consequences be damned. Faced with a respected opposition that warns, ‘You are about to make a bad situation worse’, Woolworths Limited’s approach seems to be ‘We’ll roll the dice and take our chances’.

Except it’s not Woolworths Limited or Dan Murphy’s’ ‘chances’ we’re concerned about. But rather the chances of Territorians. Lives are at risk. The stakes are that high.

What should Australian consumers make of this retailing giant’s bloody mindedness when presented with concerns and evidence that its planned development will cause great harm?

And what does it say about Woolworths Limited’s corporate culture that it no longer feels the need to even pretend that it cares?

Read the opinion piece from Michael Thorn

Read the press release

Read the letter to Woolworths Chairman



Drink Tank aims to generate meaningful commentary and debate about alcohol policy, and to provide a platform for all members of the Australian community to share their views and concerns.

Our goal is for the Drink Tank community to engage in robust discussion about alcohol, highlighting a broad spectrum of views and voices, and ultimately to raise the profile of alcohol as an issue national of importance.

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