A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

The Chief Health Officer of the Northern Territory has declared that newsagents are not essential

Update: 12:30 30062021. They reversed the decision.

In a move that is out off step with every other state / territory jurisdiction in Australia that has dealt with lockdowns during Covid, the NT Government, through their Chief Health Officer, has declared that newsagents are non-essential. ALNA sent out an email late today with the news.

At the NT government website they say all retail, except for supermarkets, is to be open:

People are only permitted to leave home for the following five reasons. Masks must be worn at all times when leaving  home:

  1. To receive health care or attend medical appointments. Including to get the COVID-19 vaccine

  2. To undertake shopping and get necessary goods and services. Supermarkets will stay open, so there is no need to stock up on groceries.

  3. To exercise for up to one hour a day within 5km of your home and only with members of your household or one other person.

  4. To undertake essential work. If you can work from home – you must work from home.

  5. In case of an emergency or if there is family violence or to provide essential care to a loved one or dependent.

This is an odd move, one that is challenging many small business NT retailers.

I wonder what the folks at the NT News think about this since newsagents play a an important role in disseminating the news they publish.

Newsagents in other states and territories have shown themselves to be responsible and safe retailers, providing an appreciated community service keeping people up to date with news and helping them connect, which is vital for mental health.

From my work with my POS software company, farm supply businesses, produce businesses, whole foods businesses, pet shops, pool maintenance shops, bike shops have all been considered essential. So, the decision by the NT government to only permit supermarkets to be open is odd.

Updated: 06:31 30062021

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Join the discussion

  1. Graeme Day

    Mark, Good exposure. I have visited many newsagencies in Darwin over a twenty year period.
    The main Newsagency in Darwin was huge in size and product. My Brother lived there for over 20 years. which was my main reason for going there.
    I found the newsagents there catered for an exceptional widespread community, in fact all over Australia and S.E. Asia.
    in those days the print media coverage was incredible I have no reason to believe it is not so today given today’s print media climate, in fact more so as the people ther loved to read something “newsy” from “home” wherevr that may be.


  2. Mark Fletcher

    The decision makes no sense.


  3. Mark Fletcher

    The NT government has announced that newsagents can open.


  4. Graeme Day

    Bit slow in coming to the fray but better now than never. Wonder how it came about? Press? Public? or heaven forbid commonsense from a Government especially N.T.?



    Hi Graeme
    Im a newsagent in Darwin and the turn around came about due to lobbying from ALNA.
    They were fantastic in getting to the right people at Government level and challenging the reasons behind our non-essential classification. We were closed for 2.5 days not long but unsold syndicates and loss sales leading up to a $60 million Powerball draw, masks , games, puzzles, newspapers was damaging.


  6. Mark Fletcher

    Yes, ALNA put in a ton of work on this as did others. It was a real group effort with those with any access within government leveraging those contacts.


  7. Graeme Day

    Great Stuff.
    Good to see a win especially from Government re NT.


  8. Colin

    The weasle words from NSW today sums up where we are. In summary it was said… we don’t want to define what is essential, what is essential is defined by the person in need. Total crap.

    The lockdowns are over. The public are sick of them, the public finances can no longer afford them, every Tom Dick and Harry thinks they are an exception.

    15 months of pain, anxiety and financial and for what.


  9. Graeme Day

    Colin It is what it is.
    The base of argument is There are Essential Services as determined by Statuatory Bodies. Traditionally Newsagents have been one of them.
    The classification is being debated strongly by choice. Those that want to open are trying to find a market and what is found to be “essential” is in the eye’s of the beholder.
    You said before in a post that newsapers were not essential and newsagents were not an essential service.
    Why “bash” our industry for sometime that has stood as such for so long and more so when the newagent can open when and how long for they want if they want to at all.
    Blaming NSW is another politcal piece of partisan politics -does nothing for our industry.
    ALNA needs to be congratulated for the result they achieved in this case.
    Lockdowns are another issue -Yes – ALL are sick of them – most obey (that’s more than 50%) them- the few that don’t endanger the rest of society.
    They should be fined extraordinary amounts of money for threatening others with their superior attitude by being a potential carrier.
    These are the facts and the times we live in – It is what it is.
    Yes everyone hates- it it not a normal life and it is crap that is being handled the best way by those that have the authorithised responsibilty to do so can do it.
    I think the “weasle words” are highly inflammatory and totally unnecessary in your entitled opinion which apart from that is a view held by many people States and Countries Sweden for one but not here.As stated, it is what it is, without name calling, it will sort itself as we go through mill, sooner than later I hope.


  10. Mark Richardson

    Graeme I have to disagree with your “it is what it is attitude” .

    Thankfully we live in a country where we can express our opinions and we have every right to express those views.

    Yes the virus is real and i have had my 2 shots of AZ
    But the politicians and the media have a lot to answer for .

    The rhetoric from Pollies and health bureaucrats at times has been disgraceful, they have helped to promote fear in the community and as we know extended lockdowns have a negative affect on peoples mental health , also as we know the damage to business.

    There has been some talk of a shift in the reporting of this virus from the number of infections to just report the number of hospitalizations which makes more sense.

    We should all realize by now this virus is not going away any time soon and we can’t as a nation lock ourselves away forever , so we will have to live with it . Vaccination is the key and in my view the Federal Government needs to get enough vaccines into the country to fully vaccinate everyone then the virus can be let to run its course , those who don’t want a vaccination can please themselves.

    When politicians stand up and say “we have to protect the public” well that’s not entirely true as they are also led by the polling .

    I strongly disagree that Colin’s and my views “damage the industry” we always need and should encourage people to post alternate views it makes for a more robust discussion and pushes the boundaries.

    I don’t want the Politicians to “protect me all the time” iam quite happy to look after my own health .


  11. Graeme Day

    Actually I don’t disgaree with this point of view My point is as written. Mark also expalianed it very well.
    ALNA did what I believe was a great job well done.
    Essential is in the eyes of the beholder.
    howver the “weasel words” are crap because they are saying the alteranative view or becasue thay are saying the same view.
    Views give explanation and reason for civilised debate not demean the alternative by calling them names this only causes the opposite.
    Reread what I said and I was not picking on whether we are essential or not Obviously we are not as we were howver legislation is in our favour why Bash a drum of a different beat.
    “When you are on a good thing stick to it”.
    It has nothing to do with Politicians proctecting us from ourselves-only we can do than and this has been a constant throughout all my posts.
    My most uttereted statement about the role of Government is their job is to do for the electorate what the electorate can’t do for themsleves.
    It’s called local representation of whic our Parliamentary system is based upon. The House of Representatives.


  12. Colin


    You need to read the definition of weasel words “A weasel word, or anonymous authority, is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.”

    When a state head says only shop for essential items and in the same breath says an essential item can be defined by an individual and what is essential for one may not be essential for another. Then this is classic weasel words. It is vague, it is ambiguous.

    Everything can be essential, it just needs a person to decide it is essential. This is total crap.

    The politicians are setting the public up to take the blame. They have to, they can hardly blame themselves can they ?


  13. Graeme Day

    Colin Your last sentence says it all.
    The public is adult and is responsible and therefore to blame. They are stupid enough to risk their own lives (because they think only of themsleves Youth in particular believe they are indestructable even though they have the resonsibility upoon their shoulders as carriers, they care not) This generalisation is borne out with the masses that have attended the outdoor settings defying what was stated by the Governement. My interpretaion of weasel word is a word that is variable not definite such as “you may do that” The Premier was definite that you cannot do that.
    The “may” interpretation on what is esssential She did allude to.
    I think the same way. Newspapers are not esssential to me however they are to others – so are many other things – I don’t mind all opening to trade believing they are “essential” The consumer will determine if they are or not. The rules were and today changed, the same for everyone.
    Political siding is only divisionary by nature and this is when we all need to forget that shit and think of each other.
    and Yes “may” is vague as in being forceful however it is tantamount of authority giving permission “as in you may do this” The hidden meaning is “at you own risk” however the permission did have compulsory guidelines as all essential services have the choice of opening or not.


  14. Mark Fletcher

    The role log politicians is to follow the medical advice, make decisions to protect the community and be clear in communication. This is what has got NSW into trouble. Poor decision making and poor communication, like – don’t leave unless it’s essential and, yes, non essential shops can stay open.


  15. Graeme Day

    Essential Services are personally preferenced. Those not supported will prove just how “essential” they really are to the broader community.
    “The proof is in the eating”
    many newsagents are NOT openning due to lack of demand from the consumer.


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