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Wellington Bar Owners’ Plight Exposes The Deep-seated Issues With The NZ Alcohol Licensing Regime

“Recent publicity of Wellington Bar owners over the litigious approach to alcohol licencing highlights a greater symptom of licencing problems faced by small businesses across New Zealand.” says NZABC Committee member and Brewers Association of NZ Executive Director Dylan Firth.

“As a sector we whole heartedly support the message this group of Wellington business owners is presenting. Licensing agencies often have no regard for the desire of communities to have a vibrant city and rarely understand the investment realities of small businesses. And at the same time, they place unreasonable blame on well-run premises for wider social issues.”

“There is little evidence that this type of approach improves community outcomes.”

“NZABC whole heartedly supports the ability for communities to raise issues and concerns about licence-holders where the evidence exists to support these concerns. But increasingly more and more unreasonable licence conditions are being forced onto on and off-premise businesses with little or no evidence they will make a difference.

“This type of pressure is happening across the country and includes measures such as setting a minimum price of beer and wine sales in off-licences, or the banning specific brands. We believe this type of action is not only unlawful but also does nothing to reduce harmful drinking.”

“Since 2010 the number of licences nationwide has declined by more than 23%.[1]

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“Research tells us that the vast majority of New Zealanders drink responsibly. New Zealanders are drinking 25% less now than they did in the late 1970s[2]. Further, harmful drinking – particularly among younger drinkers – has also fallen.”

“There is need for sensible approach to alcohol licencing. Not a sledgehammer to a nail. Good, experienced bar and off-licence businesses are facing ever increasing costs and restrictions. With an industry that was decimated by the pandemic and had been told it had the support of Government. The approach being taken by agencies sure doesn’t feel like it”.

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