Liquor reform long term
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.