Govt wants greater community say in liquor licensing

Thursday 7 August 2008, 3:13AM
By Lianne Dalziel
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Communities will have a greater say over when, where and how liquor can be sold under the provisions of a Bill tabled in Parliament which will also improve the enforcement of liquor licence conditions, government Ministers Lianne Dalziel and Damien O'Connor announced today.

Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel, who is leading the introduction of the Sale and Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill which will also tighten the law around supplying alcohol to young people, said it reflected public concerns and police advice over the availability of alcohol and calls from local councils to have a greater say over liquor licensing.

"The Bill will give communities a greater ability to object to licensing applications, and licensing authorities will be able to take social impact into account when making licensing decisions. The Bill will also make it unlawful to supply alcohol to a minor, without the permission of the minor's parent or guardian. These decisions represent major advances in the thinking around the supply and use of alcohol in our society," Lianne Dalziel said.

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said the Bill also creates a framework of enforced self-regulation for alcohol advertising which extends the scope of the system to include all forms of advertising and promotion.

"Evidence has shown that advertising plays a role in shaping the culture of drinking in New Zealand and that there is a small but significant association between the level of exposure to alcohol advertising and consumption. That’s why the new framework extends to include packaging, labelling, merchandising and all in-store promotions and price promotions," said Mr O’Connor.

Labour MP for Manurewa George Hawkins earlier introduced a Private Member's Bill requiring social impact assessments to be included in licensing applications, and allowing increased opportunities for communities to object to applications. These provisions will be considered in conjunction to the government Bill.

The Bill amends the sale of Liquor Act to confirm the restrictions on selling liquor that apply to grocery businesses by prohibiting full liquor stores being established by these businesses through 'store within a store' arrangements and immediately adjacent stores that are part of the grocery-selling business.

Licensing authorities will be required to give effect to a council's local alcohol plan when considering new liquor licence applications or licence renewal. Local alcohol plans may cover the hours during which alcohol may be sold, the number of outlets in an area, proximity to other community premises such as schools, and responsible business practices and behaviour of liquor retailers.

As some businesses may find they do not comply with the new rules when applying for licence renewals, transitional arrangements have been included in the Bill that will give retailers three years to either meet the requirements or cease selling liquor.

The Bill reflects earlier decisions aimed at addressing youth issues including a zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 who don't hold a full licence; repealing the 'reasonable belief' defence for sale or supply of liquor to a minor; and a 'three strikes and you're out' provision for any liquor outlet manager prosecuted for supplying alcohol to minors.

The Sale and Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill is complemented by the government's further announcement that the Law Commission will undertake a comprehensive two and a half year review of the sale of liquor laws.

"This is a first principle review of the law around the sale of liquor in New Zealand which I signalled the need for in my speech to the ALAC conference in Rotorua in April. I am delighted that the Law Commission is taking up this important challenge," Lianne Dalziel said.