Anti-booze plea sent to MPS

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

A new liquor out­let is set to open on Ash­worth St in Toko­roa and Sal­va­tion Army Com­mu­nity Min­istries man­ager Colin Bri­dle, who sees the end re­sult of a ‘‘good night out’’, has writ­ten an open letter op­pos­ing this new out­let.

Last year Mr Bri­dle was one of many who op­posed an al­co­hol shop open­ing on Bal­moral Drive, which was even­tu­ally canned.

Due to cur­rent law re­stric­tions, the new al­co­hol shop which is iron­i­cally named ‘‘ Route 2 Joy Liquor Store LTD’’ is well within its legal rights to open its doors.

Be­low is a letter from Mr Bri­dle to Si­mon Power, Louise Upston, Mr Hartjin­der Singh (owner of Route 2 Joy Liquor store) and the South Waikato District Coun­cil staff, coun­cil­lors and mayor. An open letter: Hon Si­mon Power Min­is­ter of Jus­tice

Hon Louise Upston Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Taupo Mr Hartjin­der Singh South Waikato District Coun­cil Staff, coun­cil­lors and Mayor.

A few days ago, I was awo­ken at 3.50am by bang­ing on my front door. A man was yelling, ‘‘Colin, let me in. (Name with­held) has gone mad; he’s at­tacked me with a meat cleaver. I need some­where safe to stay.’’ His face was bloody and swollen. He smelled of to­bacco and al­co­hol and he was soaked through to the skin by the rain. An­other al­co­hol-fu­elled in­ci­dent in Toko­roa.

The Hon Si­mon Power, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, made the fol­low­ing points nine months ago when an­nounc­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s bill aimed at re­duc­ing al­co­hol-re­lated harm:

‘‘The Gov­ern­ment sees over­haul­ing our al­co­hol laws as a pri­or­ity, par­tic­u­larly ad­dress­ing the driv­ers of crime; be­cause al­co­hol is a ma­jor lu­bri­cant for of­fend­ing.

‘‘Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, not the peo­ple in Welling­ton, are best placed to de­cide how al­co­hol li­cences should be treated in their own area, which is why this bill em­pow­ers com­mu­ni­ties to adopt lo­cal al­co­hol poli­cies.

‘‘The bill aims to strike a bal­ance be­tween deal­ing with the con­sid­er­able harm that al­co­hol causes, while not un­fairly pe­nal­is­ing re­spon­si­ble and mod­er­ate drinkers.’’

So what hap­pened to this brave new leg­is­la­tion that was such a pri­or­ity? It has been placed on the back burner un­til af­ter the elec­tions. The rea­son, I be­lieve, is that the politi­cians do not have the moral courage to have the elec­torate ex­am­ine and de­bate the is­sue prior to vot­ing. They know that the bill is a heav­ily di­luted and a there­fore less ef­fec­tive, ver­sion of the Law Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­mended re­forms to re­duce al­co­hol­re­lated harm.

It’s worth pon­der­ing how many lives, maimed peo­ple, dam­aged fam­i­lies, tens or hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in health, crime and so­cial costs could have been saved while the Gov­ern­ment pauses un­til the path is po­lit­i­cally clear.

Yes it’s a com­plex is­sue but the Law Com­mis­sion pro­vided the an­swers.

The Gov­ern­ment just needs the courage to im­ple­ment them.

While the bill is on hold, Toko­roa is about to have an­other of­fli­cence added to the cur­rent 59 liquor li­cences in South Waikato District, adding to the flow of mis­ery al­ready wash­ing up at the doors of com­mu­nity agen­cies like The Sal­va­tion Army.

The ap­pli­cant, Mr Hartjin­der Singh, has sk­il­fully se­lected a lo­ca­tion away from schools, preschools, churches or res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties and it is un­der­stood he has met all re­quire­ments of the cur­rent Sale of Liquor Act. Un­der the Act, the com­mu­nity is un­able to ob­ject even though it is an af­fected party.

So, as the Gov­ern­ment fid­dles, com­mu­ni­ties like Toko­roa con­tinue to burn. A large pro­por­tion of the fam­i­lies seek­ing emer­gency aid from The Sal­va­tion Army in Toko­roa are driven to our doors by the ef­fects of al­co­hol.

An al­co­hol-ad­dicted par­ent will at best de­stroy the fam­ily bud­get and drive his or her chil­dren into deeper poverty and ne­glect.

At worst, they abuse and ter­rorise fam­ily mem­bers, leav­ing longterm emo­tional and of­ten phys­i­cal scars, which are well doc­u­mented as be­ing in­creas­ingly fis­cally and so­cially costly to the coun­try. We are be­ing de­nied the ba­sic hu­man right to be safe in our com­mu­ni­ties and in our own homes.

I guess my ques­tion (and I al­ready know the an­swer) to Si­mon Power, Louise Upston, Mr Singh and all the politi­cians and wider liquor in­dus­try is: will you be avail­able at 3.50am in Toko­roa to help clean up the car­nage, or will you be safe and warm in bed? Will you bathe and dress the wounds of the in­jured? Will you hold a fright­ened child, re­lo­cate a dis­traught fam­ily or visit a per­son in the po­lice cells? Will you ex­plain to a fam­ily why their child lies in a mor­tu­ary af­ter an ac­ci­dent?

I know that this ob­jec­tion will not qual­ify un­der the Sale of Liquor Act but I would like it to be­come a mat­ter of pub­lic record. I ap­pre­ci­ate coun­cil staff and coun­cil­lors are hog-tied by leg­is­la­tion but it is shame­ful that politi­cians are dither­ing with a wa­tered-down bill while such an in­tol­er­a­ble and ur­gent na­tional disas­ter con­tin­ues to un­fold. Yours sin­cerely,

Colin Bri­dle (Soc Wrk; Dip Man) Man­ager Com­mu­nity Min­istries The Sal­va­tion Army Toko­roa

DIS­BE­LIEF: Sal­va­tion Army’s Com­mu­nity Min­istries Man­ager Colin Bri­dle out­side the premises where the new Route 2 Joy Liquor store is set to open its doors on Ash­worth St.

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