Woolworths rejects Kimberly liquor restrictions

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Alcohol retailers and police in the Kimberly have voted for self-regulation on takeaway sales, but there is one opponent getting in their way: supermarket giant Woolworths.

Liquor outlets in Kununurra and Wyndham in the northern WA region, which already have a ban on selling full-strength alcohol sales for 21 hours a day, six days per week, have now voted for a self-regulated system.

Under a ScanTek system, customers would have to produce ID which would be scanned at the outlets, to keep track of the amount of alcohol people are purchasing in the region.

Currently liquor outlets in Derby and Broome have no restrictions on sales, but they are now considering joining the self-regulation, which would restrict an individual to two cartons of full strength beer and six bottles of wine or one bottle of spirits between midday and closing time from Monday to Saturday.

The system would allow for stores in the region to share the data from the scanners, to prevent people buying up large quantities of alcohol at different stores.

People flagged as “problem drinkers” by police and the liquor store data could be stored for the length of the restrictions to prevent those identified from being served.

But Woolworths has refused to back the system, with Liquor Group national licensing manager Shane Tremble saying it has “a number of concerns” about the system, including cost, privacy and liability for those who fail to comply.

"Without a legislative framework, liability issues and penalties that could be incurred if staff failed to ask for ID were not clear and neither was what constituted a ‘breach’ by a banned person, staff or licensees," he said.

"It imposes an additional expectation on our service staff to verify the identity of every customer for every transaction which is over and above the significant responsibility they already have to identify underage persons and intoxicated persons."

He also said the system had the potential for "intermittent failure" and may breach Federal privacy, discrimination and trade practices laws.

Kimberley police district Superintendent Mick Sutherland said he would be disappointed if all liquor outlets did not agree a trial of the system, saying that unless all were involved, the plan would not work.

The system would have to be approved by the director of liquor licensing, Barry Sargeant.