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Health Coalition Aotearoa calls for a full review of alcohol law to protect communities

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 8:59AM

By Health Coalition Aotearoa

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Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) is calling on Government to commit to a full review of alcohol law to ensure communities are protected from ongoing corporate interference in alcohol policy making. This comes following the failure of Woolworths and Foodstuffs’ third appeal against Auckland’s Local Alcohol Policy.

Co-Chair of HCA’s Roopuu Apaarangi Waipiro (Alcohol Policy Panel) Steve Randerson says that while the Supreme Court’s unanimous dismissal of the appeal was a victory for public health, the process should never have gone so far.

"Poor law-making in 2012 allowed the alcohol retail giants to dominate what was supposed to be a chance for communities to have their say on alcohol. The 8-year delay has hurt communities that could have been benefiting from the policy since 2014 - not to mention the million-dollar cost to Auckland Council. Other cities abandoned their policies entirely," says Mr Randerson.

The Government’s Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Bill aims to remove the special appeals process from local policy development, but industry dominance in other critical spheres remains unaddressed.

Mr Randerson says three main changes will make a huge difference.

"First and foremost, we must see Te Tiriti o Waitangi embedded in alcohol law to ensure iwi and hapū have authority over decisions about alcohol in their rohe.

"Second, the alcohol industry has been allowed to regulate its own marketing through ineffective voluntary codes. In this digital age, we need mandatory restriction of all types of alcohol marketing, as recommended by successive government inquiries.

"Third, we must recognise and address the rising affordability of alcohol products if we want to reduce its broad harms to our society."

With an election looming, the opportunity is wide open for our politicians to put the public interest and a just Tiriti relationship ahead of alcohol industry profits. HCA welcomes their commitment to a full review of alcohol law.