Justice Is Done In The Auckland Local Alcohol Policy Debacle
The biggest city in Aotearoa/New Zealand has so far been unable to introduce a Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) to reflect the wishes of its communities to reduce the harm to health and wellbeing from alcohol. This is despite the process being established in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in 2012!
Following an immense amount of work in the Local Government, Health and Police sectors to develop the draft LAP and consult on it, the process has been tied up in appeals against the Provisional policy by the alcohol industry since 2015. The so-called “rivals” in the supermarket retail market have been collaborating to defeat any new safety fences being put around the sale of alcohol to protect the population. Having lost their first appeal, the supermarkets sought a judicial review, and now the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the Auckland Council, allowing them to go ahead with the LAP process.
Professor Jennie Connor, a medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ, was pleased by the decision, but critical of the legislation that caused the delay and cost the public a great deal of money. “For the industry to be able to appeal against local alcohol policies shows how much their influence was felt in the making of the law in 2012”, she said. “The public needs to be protected from industries that sell inherently harmful commodities, whether they are pesticides or alcohol. Those who profit from sales need to be excluded from policy development due to their inevitable conflict of interest.”
Dr Tony Farrell, Chair of Alcohol Action NZ, said “The appeals process needs to be removed if LAPs are retained when the alcohol law is reviewed. Alternatively, nationwide policy on availability of alcohol could be strengthened and LAPs would not be necessary” “At present, New Zealanders are spending about 3% of GDP on responding to alcohol-related harm, while the industry profits”.