DUBBO is yet to be affected as the state liquor licensing authority declared parts of New South Wales, including the central west, to be too saturated with bottle shops.
But while Dubbo Liquor Accord chairman Pat Finn agreed cheap drinks were a problem, the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority ruled findings on the link between cheap drinks and alcohol abuse inconclusive.
Although they had reviewed research after inviting submissions from Woolworths, Coles and Aldi chains, Mr Finn said cheap alcohol was still a major problem.
"Anywhere where discount liquor is allowed it will encourage binge drinking because people can afford to buy a lot more with lower prices," he said.
As two of the 20 most recent liquor licence applications across NSW, Aldi supermarkets in Mudgee and Orange had applications deferred for the availability of up-to-date crime statistics. While Dubbo is Aldi free, Mr Finn added that supermarket chains supplying cheap liquor are troublesome not just for consumers but for the little guys.
"As a licensee, you can’t buy off the suppliers at the prices the big fellas sell at, the government have allowed Woolworths and Coles to dictate and they’re putting people out of work."
The Dubbo Liquor Accord does not handle applications, but Mr Finn believed it was important to point out the significance of the authority’s decisions on all levels.
Licensee of Wongarbon’s Ploughman’s Rest Tavern, Mr Finn said he was struggling to continue buying from suppliers.
"I’ve found myself buying from the chains because for something like Tooheys, it’s at least $4 cheaper a case there than from the suppliers, it’s a real problem," he said.
Since January last year, Dubbo premises have applied for 13 licences, eight of those transfers concerning change of ownership.
Only one of the 13 concerned a major chain, with Woolworths West Dubbo gaining approval for a licence transfer in November.
Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority chairman Chris Sidoti said their overall focus had been on the big supermarkets, but noted that small bottle shops were sometimes the heaviest discounters.
Mr Sidoti also said there would be more scrutiny of new applications with a particular focus on price.
"I don’t know if there are areas that have too many bottle shops but certainly there are areas that have enough," he said.
According to figures from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the number of bottle shop licences across the state has grown more than 20 per cent in the past five years.