Hospitality NZ | Alcohol Bill will not Minimise Harm

Hospitality New Zealand (Hospitality NZ) supports the harm minimisation aims of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill, which has passed its First Reading in Parliament, but doesn’t believe it will work as intended.

Chief Executive Julie White said the bill will cause unintended consequences for licence holders.

“Removing the right of appeal against Provisional Local Alcohol Licences, changing the way councils can treat existing licenses and altering District Licensing Committee hearings will not solve problems caused by harmful drinking.

“The bill will not measurably influence alcohol harm minimisation, despite the amendments made to it. If the aim is to increase community participation and to smooth the process, then it is hard to understand how this will be achieved as the LAP process at Local Councils will not change.”

She added that Hospitality NZ supports the harm minimisation aims of the bill but it doesn’t believe it will work as intended – and there will be unintended consequences for licence holders.

“The bill allows District Licensing Committees to take new Local Alcohol Policies into account when considering renewals, including the ability to decline license renewals if they are viewed as inconsistent with any new LAP.  But if a new LAP imposed licence density restrictions or buffer zones then these could be grounds for declining renewals, and that would create immense uncertainty for licence holders and the future of their business.

“Removing the requirement for objectors to have greater interest than the public generally would mean anyone from anywhere, including by video link, can object and this does not increase a community's voice over alcohol sales.

“Removing the right of appeal against provisional local licences sets a dangerous precedent, given that appeal rights are an important check and balance against flawed policies inconsistent with the objectives of the Act.”

According to Hospitality NZ, the proposed restrictions will not fix the alleged problem and will still allow the challenge of an LAP through the superior courts through a judicial review.

“Hospitality NZ believes reducing access to alcohol does not automatically mean you reduce harm, as the numbers clearly show. Before the implementation of the Sale of Liquor Act in 1989 there were about 3000 licenses across New Zealand. There are now 11,000, but since 1986 alcohol consumption has been decreasing, and is now down 25 percent.

“More licensed premises and more places to purchase alcohol has not translated into higher consumption, as this bill assumes.

“Hospitality venues recognise the harm alcohol can do when not enjoyed responsibly, which is why we support moves around harm minimisation. And that’s why we will engage fully in the more thorough review of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act announced by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Kiritapu Allan, recently.

“Venues run by responsible hosts remain the safest place for people to be social and safely and responsibly enjoy alcohol.”