Labour amendments will toughen alcohol law
| Monday, July 2, 2012 - 20:06
Labour is seeking to toughen up the Government’s proposed alcohol law reform by proposing amendments to allow for minimum prices to be set and to give more clout to local government when licensing decisions are made.
Labour’s Justice Spokesperson Charles Chauvel drafted the Supplementary Order Paper relating to minimum pricing because the Government failed to pick-up a Law Commission recommendation on the issue when it drafted the Alcohol Law Reform Bill.
“As a community, we need to get real about what encourages people to binge drink. We know that just like tobacco, the price of alcohol is a big influence on how often and how much we drink. It’s time to get serious about the pricing issue if we’re going to make any significant impact on our binge drinking culture.
“Advertising, availability, and price are all highly significant factors that need to be tackled if this culture change is to come about. National's Bill does very little to address these factors.
“The minimum pricing amendment is very simple. It will give the Minister power to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol. This power, if properly exercised, will put an end to $6 bottles of wine being sold in supermarkets.
“The evidence is that it is the availability of this type of product more than any other that leads to 'pre-loading' at home, especially by young people, before public binge drinking.
The amendment is currently in Charles Chauvel's name, but is likely to ultimately be sponsored by Lianne Dalziel.
The second SOP looks to deal more decisively with issue of the availability of alcohol than Government's Bill currently does. It toughens the minimum requirements of local alcohol policies (referred to in the Bill as local alcohol plans, or LAPs), said Charles Chauvel.
Under the SOP:
· local authorities will have to put in place an LAP for their council (at the moment, they are optional)
· decisions over the grant or re-issue of a liquor licence will have to have regard to the LAP
· the acceptable minimum content of an LAP will be set out in legislation
· the local authority will be able to impose tougher requirements than the LAP, but not weaker ones
“The evidence at select committee from many communities was that they wanted to be able to deal with the availability of alcohol locally but found existing processes didn’t give them much influence over licensing decisions.
“This SOP will change that position in favour of communities, giving them a much stronger say over the terms and conditions under which alcohol will be available for sale locally,” said Charles Chauvel.