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Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill

Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 19 October 2010

I am really pleased to stand and speak on the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill because I really enjoy watching a great game of rugby. I especially enjoy watching the All Blacks do the haka and then go on to beat the Aussies, the Boks, the Lions and especially France.

In my own humble estimation, Maori have not only excelled at this sport, but have been contributing to our top-class international reputation for now over a century.

This year, on the 18th June, there was a wonderful launch of ‘Te Ao Hou – the New Dawn’ : which was actually an unveiling of a distinctive new rugby jersey to mark one hundred years of Maori rugby since the first game in 1910 in Rotorua.

We in the Maori Party celebrate the contribution that Māori have made ever since 1888 to rugby in this country. And indeed, Maori continue to make a unique impression on the status and reputation of rugby at home and across the world.

There are more than 500 living former Māori All Blacks. Many of this elite group have also played for the All Blacks, and some, like Tane Norton, Buck Shelford and Taine Randall have had the privilege of captaining both teams.

There is also widespread Maori support of rugby and of course a particular highlight this year for us was the event hosted by Minister Sharples in Parliament on Thursday 18 March on the celebration of 100 years of Maori rugby.

So when we come to this Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill we were under the distinct impression that this was a piece of legislation which is about empowering rugby, rugby players, rugby fans, rugby spectators, rugby historians, and the like.

Instead, one might be forgiven for thinking that empowering liquor alcohol outlets and gambling venues is the dominant feature of the bill.

The Government Administration Committee made a determination around the hours for gambling; inserting a new clause which ensures that the operating hours for pokie machines are determined by the Sale of Liquor Act rather than the Rugby World Cup license.

This Bill provides more power for the Rugby World Cup Authority. During the Select Committee stage it was clarified that basically the intention is to amend clause 16(1) to ensure that statutory planning instruments, the bylaws and plans, are captured under this law. Essentially it means that the Authority is not constrained by bylaws.

I think this is where the hub of our concerns starts to play out.

Of course – like every other party in this House, we have a commitment to ensure that this Bill will support the smooth and expedient administration of Rugby World Cup activities.

But we cannot ignore the wise advice of the Law Commission to the Select Committee, that placing liquor licensing decision-making in the hands of a body that does not have ongoing experience in these types of decisions may not be conducive to expeditious decision-making.

Even more graphic illustration of these concerns was provided to the committee by Dr Tony Farrell from Mount (Maunganui) Medical Centre who was a powerful witness to the effects of alcohol harm). He told the committee that:

“I believe the only people benefiting from the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill will be the vendors of alcohol, and the companies who make and supply alcohol.

I firmly oppose any aspect of this legislation that increases availability of alcohol without due control so the police should have significant discretionary powers to revoke and to suspend the sale of alcohol should problems arise”.

The Alcohol Advisory Council gave particularly effective advice to the Committee on this matter.

In their view, while existing legislation expressly sets out to control the sale of liquor and contribute to the reduction of harm, the proposed legislation does not.

It was their view that ensuring health and safety and the minimisation of harm is not as proactive as contributing to the reduction of harm.

So I want to just summarize where we are up to.

This bill has its origin, in seeking to establish a Rugby World Cup Authority to enable applications for activities or facilities necessary for the proper conduct of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup to be determined efficiently.

That is an honourable and a sensible development.

The Rugby World Cup is going to bring the eyes of the world into our nation, and we must ensure all aspects of the administration of the activities associated are carried out with professionalism and efficiency.

Our concern is whether we have got the balance right.

As we have mentioned the Bill establishes a temporary process for licensing the sale and supply of liquor to the public during the period of the Rugby World Cup 2011, as an alternative to the process under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The Bill defines the nature of a premise or area related to alcohol licence.

The Bill also determines that a licensee commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 if they fail, without reasonable excuse to appoint a manager for the purposes of the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The problem is that it does nothing about our alcohol binge-drinking culture. In fact, it seems to me that it is encouraging tourists - those who are coming in to enjoy the Rugby World Cup to buy into our binge-drinking culture. I think that this is something that we should not be exporting to the rest of the world. We should be looking at other things.
For example, the Bill doesn’t mention the whole concept of Access Tourism.

The message from Rugby World Cup advocates is that the provisions in the bill are simply about providing hospitality for the tens of thousands of visitors who arrive. I’m not sure how hospitable it is to have drunk people everywhere because that is what they seem to be saying.

But hospitality could also extend towards ensuring we are truly prepared for the influx of overseas visitors, through such specific and tangible provisions as:

- Ensuring the Rugby World Cup Website is accessible – by that I mean being able to quickly navigate the Tourism New Zealand site to find out information about accommodation/ airports/ transport and parking which will ensure disabled visitors, the elderly and others seeking to even gain access to the venues will be supported

- We could be creating a common brand - Be Accessible - Aotearoa would welcome all peoples to the world of the 2011 Rugby World Cup

- And we could do all this tomorrow - by auditing the main tourist accommodation venues to ensure we have a set of standards around what you have to have in order to cater for all.

This is a massive area of work that isn’t being adequately addressed and we would like to see that improved.

To conclude - the Bill increases liquor supply, puts the final say over Rugby World Cup activities in the hands of a group that has no guaranteed Māori representative, gives the Minister of the Rugby World Cup too much power and all of that worries us.

But there are two important provisos that we cannot ignore.

The first is that iwi do not seem to be at all focused on profiting from the sale of alcohol – we are focusing on other opportunities – and we would be extremely loath to do anything which closes that down.

The second issue is around the potential of the Minister of Rugby World Cup to override decisions– removing public participation from the process.

To this effect we have certainly been interested in the amendments that Trevor Mallard has been promoting, which places checks and balances upon the powers of the Minister.

We will support this Bill at this its second reading, but I hope that if these comments achieve anything, they will serve as a prompt that if we are to be truly successful in the Rugby World Cup we must be able to cater to all – not just the boozers, the booze barons and associated businesses, or the gamblers and their enablers.

ENDS

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