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Liquor Bill won’t reduce harm


19 June 2009

Media Release
Available for immediate use

Liquor Bill won’t reduce harm

The Hospitality Association has told the Justice and Electoral Select Committee considering the Sale and Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill that the Bill, despite talking about reducing harm, would not deliver on that outcome.

Bruce Robertson, the Association’s Chief Executive, said that the underlying assumption throughout the Bill is that by reducing availability of alcohol, consumption will be reduced, so reducing harm.  He said that the reality and the evidence, and indeed New Zealand’s own experience, is contrary to that assumption.

Over the last 20 years the number of liquor outlets has almost trebled and liquor advertising has been permitted on television, yet if anything the per head consumption of alcohol has declined.

With over 70% of alcohol now consumed in private settings, harm will only be reduced with measures that encourage increased individual responsibility with regard to that consumption.

Mr Robertson told the Select Committee that mechanisms not covered in this Bill, which are far more likely to reduce the harm from alcohol, should be considered.  These include:

Firstly - considering having a drinking age at 18 – that is it will become illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 18 unless that alcohol is supplied by a parent, with the parent taking responsibility for that consumption.

Secondly - That it again become an offence to be intoxicated in a public place.  There is currently no signal to New Zealanders that drinking to excess is wrong.  It is wrong for a licensee to allow somebody to be on licensed premises if they are intoxicated, or to serve them to intoxication, but it is not an offence to become intoxicated.

And lastly, the Association believes that alcohol is not a product in which the industry should compete on price, and that by removing the ability to advertise the price of alcohol products the incentive to use alcohol as a loss leader will be removed.

The Hospitality Association supports a first principles review of the Sale of Liquor Act to ensure a sound, reasoned, researched and evidence based approach to liquor legislation, concluded Mr Robertson.

A full copy of the Association’s submission can be view at www.hanz.org.nz/ Industry Info & Issues / Submissions / Liquor.

ends

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