EXCLUSIVE: ALDI has received approval to open its first grog shop, at Butler in Perth’s north, despite claims from a prominent health lobby group that a supposedly superior European drinking culture where exposure to alcohol at a younger age conditions people to handle it better is an urban myth.
On Thursday, the grog shop was approved by Peter Minchin, a delegate of the state liquor licensing director.
This was despite the usual interventions by Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan, the state health department and the McCusker Cenre for Action on Alcohol and Youth.
ALDI’s new liquor licence allows the retailer to have a small display area of about 30sqm within the planned supermarket.
Wines, beers, spirits, ciders and liqueurs, which will include ALDI branded products, are permitted for sale.
Also permitted are the sale of 60 different wines, 16 types of beer, 15 separate spirits and four kinds of cider.
Before Mr Minchin, the McCusker centre unsuccessfully argued the grog shop would not be in the public interest.
Generally speaking, and not with regard to ALDI in particular, the centre explained there is a commonly held, but flawed, belief that there would be benefits in moving to a “more European” approach, in which alcohol is widely available and children are introduced to alcohol at a young age which helps them learn to drink responsibly.
But, in evidence Mr Minchin acknowledged was “uncontroverted”, the centre claimed this was a myth not consistent with the available evidence.
The centre cited research showing that young people who repeatedly drank at home with their parents were more likely to report risky drinking in later adolescence than those who did not drink alcohol.
It was submitted that making more alcohol available would likely increase, rather than decrease, alcohol-related harm in Western Australia.
“It is important to also note that European countries including France, Italy and Spain experience higher rates of alcohol-related chronic diseases and road crashes than Australia,” the centre argued.
“There is also increasing concern in France for example, about binge drinking by young people.”
Mr Minchin noted that while ALDI claimed its shop would make an enormous contribution to Butler in terms of retail and infrastructure, given the small size of the grog shop and the limited range of product, the benefits to the community from the grant of the licence would not be significant.
“Whilst I acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the objector and interveners, particularly in respect of the integration of liquor within a supermarket environment, in the circumstances of this case, I am of the view that the grant of the application is in the public interest,” he concluded.
Construction is well underway on the Butler ALDI, which is rising on Butler Boulevard, and will cover about 1500sqm, with two thirds of that retail space.
Butler already has three other supermarkets – IGA, Coles and Farmer Jacks – with a Woolworths shopping centre also proposed for Butler Boulevard.
After this story was published, ALDI got in touch to say, that with other liquor licence applications pending assessment, it had not yet decided whether ALDI Liquor would be introduced to Western Australia.
The ALDI statement said that its shops that sell liquor in eastern Australia do not carry any chilled alcohol products for immediate consumption.
This story was updated on April 26 and April 27 to clarify that the Butler shop would not be the first to open in WA, although its liquor licence is the first to be approved. Also added was some clarification around the nature of the centre’s myth busting.