Sauce for the goose?

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

The bat­tle for a liquor li­cence by the Pukerua Bay Store may present an in­ter­est­ing coun­ter­point to the pre­vail­ing at­ti­tude to­ward al­co­hol re­form lo­cally.

A com­mu­nity mo­bilises, backed up by po­lice, in op­po­si­tion to a new liquor store in their sub­urb, or an es­tab­lished bot­tle shop or dairy seek­ing a li­cence re­newal. It’s a call-to-arms we’ve seen enough times to sug­gest the Al­co­hol Re­form Bill – which would give the com­mu­nity greater say in the ap­proval of liquor li­cences and ban booze from dairies – couldn’t be passed soon enough for our res­i­dents.

At least that’s how it plays in the east­ern sub­urbs, where there has been greater con­cen­tra­tion of small off-li­cences, and com­mu­nity con­cern about the so­cial im­pact of al­co­hol.

Up north in Pukerua Bay it’s not a church or wel­fare agency try­ing to muster com­mu­nity sup­port – it’s the store owner He­mant Pa­tel in an ef­fort to re­tain the liquor li­cence – the only one in the vil­lage – and per­haps even save his busi­ness.

Will Pukerua Bay res­i­dents come to the de­fence of the store? Will they vent their anger at the li­cens­ing au­thor­ity for try­ing to med­dle with their drink­ing habits?

Or will they suck up a five-minute drive to Mana Es­planade be­cause they – like their neigh­bours in the East – don’t want to see booze sold in the same shop their kids are sent to buy a bot­tle of milk?

North­ern ward city coun­cil­lor Euon Mur­rell is in Mr Pa­tel’s corner, slam­ming the po­lice pol­icy to op­pose all dairy liquor li­cence ap­pli­ca­tions.

We sym­pa­thise with dairy own­ers who have sold al­co­hol re­spon­si­bly and now face a threat to their liveli­hood. They are the vic­tims of the gov­ern­ment try­ing to make up for past mis­takes.

But it’s hard to fault the po­lice op­po­si­tion, which is in keep­ing with the in­tent of the re­form bill – which, while await­ing com­mit­tee ap­proval and a third read­ing, will likely pass into law this year.

It is also ap­pro­pri­ate for the po­lice to op­pose dairy off-li­cences in all cases, rather than pick and choose who of the city’s res­i­dents need to be saved from their vices and who can be trusted to con­sume al­co­hol re­spon­si­bly.

Po­lice area com­man­der John Price told us al­co­hol was a key driver of crime and driv­ing ac­ci­dents, and that booze prob­lems cut across all classes and neigh­bour­hoods. Fair point, but if less­en­ing the so­cial ills of al­co­hol is the pur­pose of the re­stric­tion, why stop at dairies? Why not su­per­mar­kets?

Many changes made to the Sale of Liquor Act in 1999, in­clud­ing the low­er­ing of the drink­ing age to 18, de­fied logic. The re­form bill is in­tended to rec­tify some of the non­sense, but Lord knows plenty of hypocrisy will re­main.

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