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Bill to open bars to World Rugby Cup viewers welcomed

Clubs New Zealand welcomes the decision of Justice Minister Andrew Little to put forward a bill amending the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to allow all licensed premises to remain open for Rugby World Cup matches.

Without the proposed law change sixty percent of Club New Zealand’s 305 member clubs may have been prevented from opening for one or more of the RWC televised games. With the bill passed eligible licensed premises will be permitted to open during the 2019 RWC so members can watch televised live games outside usual trading hours.

“To remain open for all of the games during the tournament 183 of our member clubs would have needed special licences as their current licensed hours are not sufficient,” says Clubs New Zealand Chief Executive Larry Graham. “We thank the Minister for his decisive solution to the immediate problem but also urge him to look at ways of ensuring it does not recur by perhaps following the regulatory approach implemented in New South Wales.”

Conditions which must be complied with to successfully obtain a special licence, such as ticket-only sales, fancy dress, live music, quizzes, guest speakers or themed food are difficult for clubs to meet.

For televised sport to be considered a special licence qualifying “event” under the current legislation district councils expect clubs to charge a door or ticket fee which would be unreasonable as members already pay an annual fee to belong to their clubs.

“Clubs were not expecting a free pass to stay open for Rugby World Cup or other televised sporting events,” says Larry Graham. “They are willing to apply for and obtain special licences when appropriate, but their applications are being declined because their district councils do not view televised sporting events as events for the purposes of a special licence.”

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The belief that televised matches are not events for the purposes of a special licence derives from a 2004 Liquor Licensing Authority Decision – this pre-dates the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The 1989 Act did not provide an interpretation of “event” which was why at the time this decision was important. The 2012 act has a general interpretation of event, but this is being ignored in favour of the 2004 decision.

Following the passing of similar special legislation in 2015, there were widespread reports about how well behaved the general public were in the bars that were then able to cater to the rugby watchers and no serious incidents were reported.

“The average age of a club member is 63, so for many of them learning how to stream games into their homes is the last thing they want to do,” says Larry Graham. “The simplicity of going to their local club to cheer on the All Blacks with their friends is what they are looking for.”

“So both the Minister and MP David Seymour must be commended for acting so constructively to preserve the rights of our members to enjoy the Rugby World Cup in a safe and friendly environment,” says Larry Graham

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