Liquor bill ‘fills holes’

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

AN AL­CO­HOL ad­vi­sory group says a new liquor bill be­fore Par­lia­ment doesn’t go far enough.

Al­co­hol Health­watch di­rec­tor Re­becca Wil­liams says she’s dis­ap­pointed is­sues like pric­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing were not ad­dressed.

But the Sale and Sup­ply of Liquor and Liquor En­force­ment Bill, in­tro­duced by as­so­ci­ate Jus­tice Min­is­ter Lianne Dalziel, is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“It’s a bit like hav­ing a fence around the is­sue and hav­ing the gate open,” Ms Wil­liams says.

The bill aims to crack down on premises sell­ing al­co­hol to mi­nors and give com­mu­ni­ties more say on where and how liquor is sold.

It also means gro­cery stores or su­perettes less than 150 square me­tres in size may not be able to get liquor li­cences.

A sim­i­lar private mem­ber’s bill in­tro­duced by Ma­nurewa MP Ge­orge Hawkins will be con­sid­ered in con­junc­tion with Ms Dalziel’s bill.

Ms Wil­liams says the shift to­wards a con­cern for com­mu­nity health and well­be­ing is a pos­i­tive move.

“The bill will fill many of the gap­ing pot holes in our liquor laws in the short term.”

The wider re­view of liquor laws also an­nounced by the Law Com­mis­sion will give some de­sign for the new road ahead, says Ms Wil­liams.

Sergeant Ja­son Loye says small gro­cery stores sell­ing liquor were the worst cul­prits for sell­ing to mi­nors in the last con­trolled pur­chase op­er­a­tion.

Car­ried out in June, the sting cov­ered the west­ern polic­ing dis­trict from Pon­sonby and the in­ner-city fringe to Mt Eden Rd, Three Kings.

He says the dis­crep­ancy be­tween smaller stores and larger out­lets was more pro­nounced than in pre­vi­ous op­er­a­tions.

Staff be­ing ig­no­rant rules and reg­u­la­tions of is part of the prob­lem, he says.

“One staff mem­ber thought the mi­nor was buy­ing ginger beer.

“They weren’t even aware of the prod­ucts they had.”

Un­der the law, dairies can­not hold liquor li­cences but some premises get around the rules by declar­ing them­selves gro­cery or con­ve­nience stores.

A size re­stric­tion on premises will make it eas­ier for peo­ple to know whether or not they qual­ify for a li­cence, he says.

“It’s fair for peo­ple com­ing into the store-type busi­ness to be clearly told if they meet the cri­te­ria or not.”

Of the 109 off-li­cence premises in the west­ern dis- trict, 17 are su­per­mar­kets or gro­cery stores and Mr Loye says around half of them will be af­fected if the new bill be­comes law.

The whole Auck­land city area has 473 off-li­cence premises, but the Auck­land City Coun­cil was un­able to say how many li­cences were for gro­cery stores or su­perettes.

Un­der the bill, busi­nesses that don’t com­ply with new reg­u­la­tions when ap­ply­ing to re­new their li­cences will have three years to meet the re­quire­ments or stop sell­ing liquor.

The bill was in­tro­duced last week and a date has not been set for the first read­ing.

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