Newspaper Icon7 Dec 2022: Media release re new Govt alcohol bill

‘Community Participation’ Bill will enable a fairer alcohol licensing process

Hāpai te Hauora and Alcohol Healthwatch celebrate the changes put forward by Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan today to give power back to communities in decisions regarding controls on alcohol sales.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill (the ‘Bill’) introduced today seeks to improve community participation in alcohol licensing processes. It extends the eligibility criteria regarding who can object to an alcohol licence application and reduces the overly-legalistic nature of licensing hearings by removing cross-examination and providing more accessible options for communities to take part.

Selah Hart, Chief Executive of Hāpai te Hauora says "Today’s announcement finally signals an intention to put people before profit. It provides for organisations, such as ourselves, the right to have a say in alcohol licensing decision-making processes. Our whānau and communities shoulder the majority of alcohol harms, so it is right that their voices and preferences are clearly heard. To date, it’s been absurd to have restrictions on who is permitted to have a say on the sale of our country’s most harmful drug."

The Bill also seeks to remove the ability for anyone to appeal a Council local alcohol policy. Following community consultation on their draft policies, Councils have faced relentless challenges by large alcohol retailers, especially supermarkets, to their proposed policies that specify where, when and how alcohol can be sold. This has resulted in only one-third of the country’s population living in a district that has a local alcohol policy and some Councils abandoning their policies after facing costly and lengthy legal action. One in five Councils have chosen not to start the policy process at all.

Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch, Dr Nicki Jackson, says "Our 2012 alcohol laws promised communities a greater say in decisions on the availability of alcohol. This promise was never fulfilled. Instead, communities have continued to struggle to have their voices heard against powerful alcohol industry interests. We welcome this Bill that seeks to improve the alcohol licensing and policy processes that have been failing for so long, especially our communities that are saturated with alcohol outlets and living with disproportionate levels of alcohol harm."

"For any person, or organisation serving their communities, wanting to have a say about how alcohol is sold in their neighbourhood, this Bill paves the way for more meaningful and fair contribution. We’re pleased to hear the calls of the community answered and respected", ends Dr Jackson.