No cap on num­ber of out­lets sell­ing booze

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - MIKE BAIN

‘‘We had an op­por­tu­nity to cap the num­bers, if we can do it with pokie ma­chines we should be able to do it with liquor out­lets.’’

The flow of al­co­hol re­mains steady as com­mu­nity lead­ers de­cided not to cap the num­ber of out­lets sell­ing liquor.

The dis­sent­ing voice of one coun­cil­lor was heard dur­ing a meet­ing of the Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil when ap­prov­ing its re­vised al­co­hol pol­icy for the district.

There was an ex­pec­ta­tion a cap would be placed on the num­ber of premises sell­ing al­co­hol in the fu­ture but the coun­cil seemed re­luc­tant to take that step.

The pol­icy does not limit the num­ber of on-li­censed premises in the district, or re­strict the is­sue of li­cences for premises not cur­rently hold­ing a li­cence, pro­vided the other pol­icy cri­te­ria is met.

Coun­cil’s cor­po­rate strat­egy man­ager Michelle StainesHawthorne said there was noth­ing in the [li­cens­ing] act which made a dis­tinc­tion be­tween bot­tle stores and su­per­mar­kets in the groups of off-li­cence premises.

‘‘The new poli­cies how­ever set the bar a lot higher and an ap­pli­cant would have to demon­strate no harm to the com­mu­nity by ob­tain­ing a li­cence,’’ she said.

Coun­cil­lor Paul Cronin had no prob­lem with liquor stores or su­per­mar­kets which had strict poli­cies but wanted to see the coun­cil im­pose a cap on new premises.

He said pros­e­cu­tions for sup­ply­ing al­co­hol to mi­nors, from out­lets des­per­ate for turnover, demon­strated how li­cens­ing was be­ing abused.

More out­lets could pro­vide ex­tra com­pe­ti­tion, where he feels ‘‘lower prices equals more con­sump­tion’’.

‘‘We had an op­por­tu­nity to cap the num­bers, if we can do it with pokie ma­chines we should be able to do it with liquor out­lets.’’

Cronin voted in favour of the new pol­icy. But in com­ments sup­plied after the meet­ing, he said off- li­cences were dif­fi­cult to po­lice.

‘‘We have I be­lieve at least seven off-li­censes where liquor can be sold to take home. Any more means the only area left to make mar­ket share is by com­pe­ti­tion-based on price, lower al­co­hol prices means a higher con­sump­tion and higher con­sump­tion means larger amount of harm.’’

Coun­cil­lor Brian Hunter also voted for the pol­icy as pre­sented but was con­cerned be­cause in pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sions the pro­posal was a blan­ket ban, orig­i­nally to limit the num­ber of off-li­cences.

The new by­law be­gin on June 22.

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