Liquor re­form long term

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

The six o’clock swill may be long gone but Auck­land’s binge-drink­ing cul­ture is still not a good look, mayor Len Brown says.

‘‘I think that we should be fo­cused on try­ing to en­cour­age a ma­tu­rity in the way in which we drink. And the his­tory of the na­tion on this front is not great,’’ Brown says.

‘‘Six o’clock swills is what I grew up ob­serv­ing – and binge-drink­ing – and it’s not just about young peo­ple, it’s about ‘us’. It’s not a pretty look for Auck­lan­ders and New Zealan­ders, quite frankly.’’

His com­ments come as the city’s law-mak­ers start pulling to­gether one set of rules on al­co­hol access for Auck­land un­der the draft Lo­cal Al­co­hol Pol­icy.

New trad­ing times are pro­posed for both on- and of­fli­cence premises.

Back­lash from com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly over bot­tle stores, pushed the Gov­ern­ment and coun­cil to take ac­tion, Brown says.

Fort Lane has been iden­ti­fied as an area with high al­co­hol-re­lated harm and an abun­dance of liquor li­cences.

‘‘Any­one who’s been down­town here knows that we’ve been re­ally fo­cused on try­ing to get the mix right: fun, ex­cit­ing, great nightlife but a rea­son­ably safe en­vi­ron­ment, and not streets packed with peo­ple who are drunk.’’

Coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Wood, chair­man of the re­gional strat­egy and pol­icy com­mit­tee, says Auck­land has to show its nightlife is propped up on more than just get­ting drunk.

Brown says the pol­icy is about chang­ing the drink­ing cul­ture long term.

‘‘What we will be look­ing to do with this leg­is­la­tion is en­cour­age re­spon­si­ble drink­ing. Of course peo­ple should have the op­por­tu­nity of en­joy­ing a glass of what­ever their favourite tip­ple is, that’s not what this is about. This is about try­ing to limit stuff that’s so ex­ces­sive that peo­ple just get blotto and then they cre­ate havoc.’’

The rules have to be con­sis­tent across Auck­land, he says.

‘‘We’re try­ing to find, again, the right bal­ance about re­spon­si­ble drink­ing, safety in our streets and peo­ple hav­ing a great time when they come down and en­joy the nightlife, par­tic­u­larly the young.

‘‘We want this place to be pump­ing hard and by and large it is but it’s a lit­tle bit dif­fi­cult if peo­ple are com­pletely out of their trees.’’

Chang­ing times: The new leg­is­la­tion aims to en­cour­age re­spon­si­ble drink­ing.

Len Brown

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