Alcohol Bill Drives Change in NZ’s Drinking Culture   1 May 2012

Changes to the Alcohol Reform Bill, set to return to Parliament for final consideration next month, aim to drive a change in our drinking culture, says Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Ms Collins says the Bill contains a broad set of measures to reduce alcohol-related harm in our communities.

“Problem drinking is a major contributor to crime and a significant cause of public disorder and health problems in New Zealand communities.

“The Alcohol Reform Bill will address these problems. It will empower local communities to determine where and how alcohol is sold, increase personal and parental responsibility for the supply of alcohol and introduce a risk-based licence fee regime.

“It reduces availability of and access to alcohol, for example by stopping sales from dairies and convenience stores. A split purchase age of 18 for on-licence premises such as bars, restaurants and 20 for off-licences such as supermarkets and liquor stores is proposed

“Together, these reforms will target the causes of problem drinking, without punishing moderate and responsible drinkers. The changes support a shift drinking culture, away from drinking to excess, towards responsible, moderate alcohol consumption,” said Ms Collins.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament in November 2010 and was reported back from Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee in August 2011.

Ms Collins said the government has since addressed detailed policy issues arising from the Bill and the select committee recommendations, and is now ready to progress the Bill through its remaining stages in Parliament.

Parliament will consider the proposed split purchase age as a conscience vote during committee stage consideration of the Bill.

Key proposals in the Bill include:

A split purchase age – purchase age to be increased to 20 for off-licence retailers such as liquor stores, supermarkets and grocery stores, but remains at 18 for on-licences such as restaurants, bars and clubs where drinking takes place in a controlled environment.
 
A risk-based licence regime – licence fees will reflect risk factors such as type and capacity of venue, trading hours and previous conduct of a licensee. Low-risk premises such as wineries will pay the lowest fees.
 
Parents and guardians will be responsible for their children’s drinking – it will be an offence for anyone else to supply alcohol to an under-18-year-old unless they have the parent’s or guardian’s express consent, and must do so responsibly. Supply of alcohol to minors without consent or in an irresponsible manner may be liable for a fine of up to $2000.
 
Local communities will have more say about where and when alcohol can be sold – local authorities will be able to limit the sale of alcohol, set conditions on licences and there will be broader criteria for objecting to alcohol licence applications, through local area plans.
 
Liquor licences will be harder to get and easier to lose – licences will be harder to get through local alcohol policies and broader criteria for objecting to licence applications, and licensees and managers who persistently fail to comply with the law will lose their licences.
 
Tighter restrictions on the types of premises that can sell alcohol and when they can sell it – dairies and convenience stores won’t be able to sell alcohol. There will be national maximum hours for alcohol sales.
 
Tighter restrictions on the irresponsible promotion of alcohol – especially irresponsible promotion that targets young people.
 
The reforms in the Bill will be implemented in three stages, with most coming into effect 6 and 12 months after royal assent. This is to provide enough time to set up new licensing and enforcement systems.
 
(New Zealand Government)

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