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Liquor Law Changes Can’t Come Soon Enough

Public health agency Hāpai Te Hauora is welcoming the government’s plans to make it harder for alcohol companies and supermarkets to stop local communities from deciding the rules governing the sale of liquor in their area.

Hāpai Te Hauora Chief Executive Officer, Selah Hart said the current regime has created a David and Goliath situation, with small town councils and community boards having to battle multinational liquor companies and the supermarket duopoly in order to implement the wishes of local people.

"The Minister gave the example of Auckland, where Council’s attempt to implement a local policy has resulted in a seven year court battle and millions in legal fees, but that is only one of several such examples around the country," said Ms. Hart.

"And as we know, the underserved communities, which have even fewer resources to take these companies on, are the ones they target."

Ms. Hart said the changes couldn’t come soon enough, and eagerly awaiting further announcements as indicated by Minister of Justice, Kiritapu Allen, in March 2023.

"This law has been shown to be deficient for 10 years. It’s high time the government gave local people back their voice, rather than letting these companies ride roughshod over the wishes of the communities in which they operate."

Ms. Hart said Hāpai Te Hauora would continue to support Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s private members bill that would end alcohol sponsorship of sports clubs, teams, and venues, and restrict alcohol advertising.

"We’ve had a decade of studies and reports from public health academics, the Law Commission, Graham Lowe’s ministerial forum - all saying the same thing. That alcohol advertising and sponsorship by alcohol companies give our rangatahi a photoshopped idea of how this drug works and leave them unaware of the harm alcohol can do and is doing.

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