ACCC to allow alcohol supply restrictictions in NT

Posted by Josette Dunn on 26th March 2010

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposes to authorise alcohol supply restrictions in an agreement between liquor licensees in the Casuarina Business Precinct in Darwin in a draft decision issued today.

Red wine and bottle - Foster’s wine review

The restrictions will limit the supply of takeaway pre-mixed, large volume wine and fortified wine products.

The restrictions are part of a liquor accord which has been developed by a committee made up of representatives of a number of Casuarina businesses as well as the Northern Territory Police and Northern Territory licensing officials.

“The ACCC considers that the supply restrictions are likely to assist in efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour in the Casuarina precinct, with associated enhanced crime prevention and improved public safety,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.

“While the supply restrictions limit product choice and consumer convenience, currently only a small range of products are affected. Licensees within the Casuarina precinct will continue to compete on all other alcohol products.”

Local liquor accords are one approach to dealing with excessive alcohol consumption and the harm which results from it. Liquor accords are developed with community, rather than commercial, interests in mind. However, if a liquor accord involves an agreement by competing licensees to, for example, not supply certain products, this will generally raise concerns under the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The ACCC may authorise this type of arrangement when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment. Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Act.

There is a Bill currently before the Northern Territory Parliament which if passed will provide legislative exemption from the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act to liquor accords in the Northern Territory in the future.

The ACCC now invites comments on the draft determination. The ACCC’s draft determination and information about making a submission will be available from the ACCC website, and by following the links to this matter. Parties wishing to make submissions should do so by 16 April 2010.