It may sound like a truism that students want more and cheaper beer, but that’s precisely what was proposed to the Dunedin City Council by the Otago University Student’s Association (OUSA).
James Heath, president of OUSA, said that students would like to be able to drink alcohol in licensed venues at lower prices. He also asked that the Dunedin City Council help OUSA lobby the notion to the Government. Heath proposed that bars where students could drink provided safer drinking environments and got students out of the streets and neighbourhoods. However, the current cost of drinking in licensed venues as opposed to buying from the supermarket is not as feasible for students. Getting students into licensed premises where consumption could be closer monitored would reduce alcohol-related harm.
There are however problems that arise with the disparity between drinking at a bar and buying at a supermarket. With the increase in the minimum wage and the prevalence of excise taxes, supplying alcohol is no longer something that can be done ‘cheaply’ at a bar or restaurant. Mark Scully, Hospitality New Zealand Otago president, said, “I’m the first to admit, as a bar owner, I think the price of drinking on premises is bloody horrific, but I also know a lot of pubs can’t afford to charge any less, or they wouldn’t be here.”
One proposal was that instead of lowering the cost to drink at bars, perhaps the price of alcohol from the supermarket could be increased. If nothing else, the hope is that the gap between the two rates is reduced.