Liquor bill ‘fills holes’
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.