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Bureaucratic Harassment Of Bar Owners Must Stop

“The tactics deployed by public officials against bars in Wellington is akin to harassment, and needs to stop,” says ACT Small Business spokesperson Laura Trask.

“The case of Saint Diablo, a Courtenay Place bar that was forced to spend months and tens of thousands of dollars fighting for the right to open, suggests there is a destructive anti-business mindset in the capital.

“Health NZ budgeted $50,000 and spent $22,000 opposing the bar’s application to open. They claimed there were already close to 200 bars in the area, but The Post today reveals this figure was inflated with dozens of phantom venues. Meanwhile the bar owner himself spent $20,000 defending his application. His delayed opening meant he was left paying rent without any revenue, all thanks to interference from health officials, Police, and Council.

“Health NZ and Police are too focused on the negative. Bars don’t just sell alcohol – they offer food, entertainment, employment, and social spaces where people can share ideas and form friendships.

“The power balance is skewed. Public agencies have nearly bottomless pits of money they can use to batter business owners with compliance costs and legal challenges. Even if a bar ultimately wins its application for a licence, the process is punishment. Cost and delay can turn a profitable enterprise into a failure, and all the risk is borne by the business owner, while the nanny state officials get paid either way.

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“We are all made better off by the doers – those who face down the stress, sweat, and risk involved in opening and running a business. Instead of scapegoating hospitality operators for social problems, we should be making their lives easier, freeing up their time and resources for the operation of a safe, successful business that satisfies customers and brings life to the city.

“Health NZ and Police need to shift resources away from regulatory harassment and instead focus on positive initiatives to address alcohol harm and keep our cities safe.”

© Scoop Media

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