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Industry 'Cowboys' Need To Clean Up Their Act

25 October 2005

Liquor Industry 'Cowboys' Need To Clean Up Their Act

Some members of the alcohol industry, and in particular those responsible for licensed premises, need to clean up their act, says the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC).

ALAC’s comments follow separate incidents at opposite ends of the country, one inviting students to get drunk, the second the sale of 21 shots of alcohol to a young woman.

In Palmerston North last week The Fitzherbert Tavern had a Speight’s sign outside asking “Why study for exams when you can get drunk with your mates?” while in Invercargill the Lone Star sold the 21 shots to a woman celebrating her 21st birthday while the DJ allegedly compered the event and egged her on.

“It defies belief that any licensed premises would put out such a sign with its implicit invitation to come inside and get drunk,” says ALAC acting Chief Executive Officer Sandra Kirby.

“It is not only irresponsible to target students during exams which are a stressful time but it is also illegal to encourage people to consume excessive alcohol on licensed premises or indeed serve or allow drunks on licensed premises.”

Similarly the Invercargill incident would also seem to be illegal in terms of promoting excessive consumption and “I would suggest that most people who consumed that amount of alcohol in a short period of time would be intoxicated.”

Ms Kirby says what made the Palmerston North promotion even more dumbfounding was that in September 2003 a young student died after an accident at the same pub, following a drunken game of Bullrush on the premises.

“Are they slow learners or what?”

Ms Kirby says the hospitality industry often claimed to operate in a responsible manner.

“However, these two separate incidents raise questions about just how effective they are in ensuring their establishments not only meet their legal responsibilities but also their ethical responsibilities in providing a safe drinking environment. We had much higher expectations of the hospitality industry that they would do all in their power to prevent intoxication.”

Ms Kirby says members of the alcohol and hospitality industries have pledged their support for ALAC’s programme designed to change New Zealand’s risky drinking culture – yet incidents like this fly in the face of that support. The worrying question was just how widespread such incidents are, with claims that they are merely the result of 'cowboy' operators being undermined by repeated reports of incidents from several parts of the country.

“The message has got to get through,” Ms Kirby adds. "The law in this area is clear, and it's there for a good reason. Encouraging or allowing drunkenness on licensed premises is simply not acceptable.”


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