The Alcohol Law Reform Bill was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
“There has been huge public debate over the proposed changes and it’s now time to focus on the detail of the bill to ensure we get laws that make a difference to the way we drink,” said ALAC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Vaughan.
“The Government has made it clear that the proposals in the bill are a starting point not an end point so it’s essential to ensure MPs considering the bill through the select committee process hear the full range of views to ensure we get good law supported by evidence.”
ALAC is an autonomous Crown entity set up by legislation to advise Government on alcohol-related issues. Mr Vaughan said ALAC would be working through its views on the detail and would be presenting its submission to the select committee.
In broad terms, ALAC welcomed the measures in the bill giving communities the ability to control how alcohol is managed in their neighbourhood: the strengthening of the rules over provision of alcohol to minors: the restrictions on access and availability of alcohol through cutting back on opening hours and types of stores that can hold a licence: and the strengthening of the existing offence of promotion of excessive consumption of alcohol.
Mr Vaughan said ALAC had advised a purchase age of 20. However, a split age with 18 for on-licence and 20 for off-licence was a step in the right direction as it should dampen down the supply chain to very young drinkers.
Mr Vaughan said overall the bill was an important first step to getting the laws right around the sale and supply of alcohol. However, there were still other things that needed to be addressed down the track.
Price, which was internationally recognised as one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol harm, needed to remain on the table, he said. He welcomed the Government’s proposal that overseas developments on minimum pricing regimes should continue to be monitored and New Zealand sales data collected from retailers and producers to investigate the feasibility of such a regime.
“We believe further work also needs to be done in the area of alcohol advertising, marketing and sponsorship to come up with decisions that will work in the New Zealand environment and our work programme will continue in these areas.