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New law means more say on alcohol licensing

Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012

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Community leaders are delighted Parliament has passed the alcohol reform legislation.

It includes moves to allow communities a say on alcohol licensing, introduces stronger rules on the types of stores able to sell alcohol and confirms the alcohol purchase age at 18.

The legislation implements decisions in response to the Law Commission's review of the sale and supply of liquor in New Zealand.

Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton says the legislation represents an enormous victory for communities across South Auckland.

"Residents in Manurewa and Clendon began lobbying for changes to the Sale of Liquor Act in 2003.

"The consistent message from those residents has been the need for Parliament to change the law to give affected communities a say in the licensing and operation of bottle shops, pubs and bars in their neighbourhood.

"The passage of the Alcohol Reform Bill will go a long way towards addressing a significant legal blind spot that has contributed to social harm for more than 20 years," Mrs Dalton says.

Manurewa-Papakura councillor Callum Penrose says the task now is to prepare the way for the passage of local alcohol policies to turn back the "bottle shop on every street corner mentality".

"Grotty low-end liquor stores in residential neighbourhoods are not wanted in our community.

"Now that Parliament has passed legislation into law the onus will fall on Auckland Council to develop the policies."

The council is inviting Aucklanders to take part in shaping the new liquor licensing framework.

Mayor Len Brown says the legislation will pave the way for greater local input in to policy development.

"I have been asking for some time for the bill's passing to be prioritised so we can get on and do the work we need to do and that our community is asking us to do."

In the next 12 months the council will be engaging with the industry, key stakeholders and communities on developing a Local Alcohol Policy and implementing a new liquor licensing system to ensure a smooth transition to the rules.

The new legislation will also see the establishment of district licensing committees. They will consider and determine applications, instead of the council acting as the sole agency for liquor licensing.

A council e-news letter will have regular updates on liquor licensing and policy development in the coming months.

To sign up for the e-newsletter go to aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/liquor or email: liquorlicensing@ aucklandcouncil.govt.nz. - Jay Boreham

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- Manukau Courier

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