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Local Government Law Reform Bill Passed

Hamilton West MP, Bob Simcock, has applauded the passing of the Local Government Law Reform (No.3) Bill in Parliament last night.

“Year after year we have had problems with drunken riots disrupting small communities at holiday times.” Mr Simcock said. “Last summer we had riots at both Mount Maunganui and at Waihi Beach. These riots cause significant property damage and disruption for members of the general community and they should never be tolerated in a civilised society. The bill will give local communities the power to ban people from drinking alcohol in public places for set periods of time. In the past such bans have been used effectively to control riotous behaviour.”

“I have been promoting the need for liquor ban legislation ever since a meeting of the Hamilton Safer communities Council two years ago was told that it would be illegal to apply a ban between Christmas and New Year in Hamilton. While liquor bans have been used by a number of communities in the past, it appears that many of them have been illegal. At best, the previous law allowed bans to run for a maximum of twelve hours and that simply doesn’t work.”

“Over the last two years, I have met with and exchanged correspondence with numerous local bodies and front line police officers who have been asking for effective legislation to protect their communities. This year our millennium celebrations will be seen on television around the world. The last thing we want people in other countries to see is a bunch of drunken louts running riot. Without this legislation, that would have been a serious risk.”

“Last night in Parliament, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Judith Tizard described the legislation as “draconian”. In fact this legislation does not go far enough. There is nothing draconian about giving local communities the power to maintain law and order. The legislation only allows bans to be put in place on or between specific holiday dates. These dates are still very restrictive and they will have to be reviewed again in the future. The Parliament still does not seem to be willing to trust local communities to make their own decisions on these matters.”

“No community wants to have to live through the things that happened in Waihi last year. Police should not have to see such situations developing and be powerless to deal with them. Communities want the power to control drinking in their streets and this legislation is a good step in the right direction,” concluded Mr Simcock.

- Ends -

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