Brown wants drink laws fast tracked

CLAMPING DOWN: Mayor Len Brown wants to tackle the issue of alcohol related violence.
CLAMPING DOWN: Mayor Len Brown wants to tackle the issue of alcohol related violence.

Auckland needs law changes fast tracked to urgently tackle drunkenness and violence in the city centre, Mayor Len Brown says.

Brown has written to Minister of Justice Judith Collins asking her to fast track the Alcohol Reform Bill by introducing a number of legislative amendments.

The changes would mean council could start using the new laws within seven months rather than 16.

In his letter Brown said his Mayoral Taskforce on Alcohol and Community Safety had very clear objectives.

"As I'm sure you are aware, we are concerned about the abuse of alcohol in the CBD and resultant problems with drunkenness, violence, anti-social behaviour, noise, litter and safety, " he wrote.

Brown said that communities across Auckland were eager to have more influence over the number, location and opening hours of liquor outlets.

He raised concerns over the length of time it had already taken for the Bill to be introduced and additional delays built in to the Bill as it is being drafted.

He urged Collins to give the Bill the "highest possible priority".

Collins said she had referred Brown's request to reduce delays to the Ministry for consideration.

"Progress of the Bill will require co-operation across parties. I would urge you to encourage opposition parties in particular to approach the debate and voting on this important legislation in a spirit of co-operation for the greater good of the wider community," she said in her response to Brown.

Collins said she believes the Bill now represents a positive, balanced approach to alcohol that meets needs of communities as well as commercial and retail interests.

She said it was important the Bill was passed this year.

The Mayoral Taskforce on Alcohol and Community Safety reports that liquor ban breaches in the central city had plummeted by 80 per cent as a result of recent work.

To date, 86 per cent of off-licence owners operating within the inner-city liquor ban area had agreed to withdraw single serve drinks from sale.

"In the first week of the taskforce operation, there were 549 breaches of the liquor ban," Brown said. "Since the sale of single bottles has been restricted, liquor ban breaches have dropped to 112 in the most recent week."

Auckland Now