Hospitality New Zealand has said that proposed changes to alcohol legislation could threaten the future of many small licence holders.
Whilst the select committee considering the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill, Chief Executive of Hospitality New Zealand, Julie White, said that it has ignored pleas from licence holders in its report back to parliament.
“This bill is likely to cause great uncertainty for licence holders and could even threaten the very future of their businesses,” said White.
White added that by allowing District Licensing Committees to take new Local Alcohol Policies (LAP) into account when considering renewals, including allowing them to decline licence renewals if they are viewed as inconsistent with any new local alcohol policy, is a step way too far.
“We are very disappointed the voices of long-standing licence holders are not reflected in the committee’s report.
Although Hospitality New Zealand supported the intention of the bill, it now believes that it won’t meaningfully address alcohol-related harm, and that it will have adverse effects on consumer choice.
“Under this bill, if a new LAP imposes licence density restrictions or buffer zones then they could be grounds for declining renewals, and that would create immense uncertainty for licence holders and the future of their business.”
White said she believes the committee has not fully understood the ramifications despite submissions clearly pointing out the risks. Though some big businesses hold liquor licences, many are smaller businesses or family-run enterprises that provide a place for people to connect and hold community benefits and employment opportunities.
“Do we really want to see them driven out of business? They are an important part of New Zealand’s social fabric; the vast majority are responsible and deserve to be heard.”
Hospitality New Zealand believes this bill will leave licence holders little control over retaining a key asset to their business, which has been described as another blow, whilst facing a squeeze on the increased cost of goods and labour shortages. White has called on Parliament to take the bill more seriously and not just rubber stamp what the select committee has done.