Paul Waters; Kate Reed; Neroli Jager; Di Mahoney; Mike Clark; Nicqui Yazdi; Graham Pearson; Darren Pearson and Luke Mooney display a Project U-turn poster and petitions.
Paul Waters; Kate Reed; Neroli Jager; Di Mahoney; Mike Clark; Nicqui Yazdi; Graham Pearson; Darren Pearson and Luke Mooney display a Project U-turn poster and petitions. Dominic Feain

Dan Murphy's answers protests

DISCOUNT liquor chain Dan Murphy’s has hit back at claims its proposed outlet in Byron Bay will fan the flames of alcohol-fuelled violence that plague the popular tourist town.

Public relations manager Simon Berger challenged opponents to prove how Dan Murphy’s presence was different to current liquor outlets.

“What we’re doing is bringing choice to Byron Bay but we recognise we have a responsibility to the community,” he said.

“Over 90 per cent of our customers are over 25 and we have a track record of responsible service ... we will have over 30 CCTV cameras to tackle things like secondary supply.”

Opposition to the chain is growing with a multitude of groups meeting yesterday outside the proposed site objecting to the size of the store and its discount prices that youth workers fear will make it easier for young people to access alcohol.

The unlikely bedfellows included representatives from the liquor industry and welfare groups.

While industry representatives might be accused of trying to protect their own turf, their argument that a super-store the size of all six existing outlets combined does hold water.

But Di Mahoney, the director of Byron Youth Service, says youth workers are dreading the thought of the store and fears Byron’s considerable alcohol problems will escalate.

“From our point of view it’s not about Dan Murphy’s, though cheap alcohol is an issue for young people as it creates greater accessibility, but it’s really the number of liquor licences in Byron is already above and beyond the state average per head of population,” she said.

“On top of that we have enormous amounts of alcohol-related violence – which is in fact up to three times the state average.

“So our young people are growing up in a community where there is excessive alcohol and excessive violence and that is really bad for them even if they don’t access alcohol.”

Dan Murphy’s received council approval for its super-store in May and is due to submit its licence application to the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing this month.

The public will have 30 days to respond once it is lodged.

Council’s executive manager of planning Ray Darney said council’s role was only in terms of approving only the physical attributes of the building, signage, fire safety, parking, stormwater and waste disposal facilities. The company submitted a Social Impact Assessment.

Alcohol and violence

Alcohol-related assaults per 100,000 head of population (non-domestic violence related)

Byron - 862  

NSW - 323

Weekend assaults per 100,000 head of population (non-domestic violence related):

Byron - 612  

NSW - 212

Number of liquor licences per 100,00 head of population:

Byron - 351  

NSW - 220


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