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Brewers slam single bottle ban plan

Counterproductive proposal is 'poor law making'

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 12:19 02/06/2014

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The Brewers' Guild of New Zealand has weighed in on the proposed ban on sales of single bottles of beer, saying they have serious concerns.

Guild president Ralph Bungard slammed the condition, included in the Marlborough District Council's draft local alcohol policy, as "poor law making" and said craft breweries would suffer badly if the proposed rule was put in place.

He believed the focus was on the wrong side of the alcohol issue. Regulators should not be worrying about whether the beer had been purchased as a single bottle, but rather focus on enforcing the law.

"Not only is this a blunt and crude way to try to deal with the issues, it will be to the detriment of consumer choice, sensible and moderate drinking habits and a burgeoning entrepreneurial beer industry," Bungard said.

Beer generally had a low alcohol volume and any ban on single bottle sales would likely encourage consumers to buy multipacks. Craft beer was more expensive, being sold at $8 to $10 a bottle, making single bottle sales the only viable option for suppliers and retailers.

The vast majority of people buying single bottles of beer were doing so to moderate their alcohol consumption or to experiment with new beer options. The proposed changes will target sensible, moderate drinking habits - the very habits that recent national law changes were aimed to encourage, Bungard said.

"Think of the analogy where, to fight obesity, the law was changed so that it was illegal to buy one pie and instead you must buy two or more. These local authorities are implementing poorly thought out laws that will have unintended negative consequences."

The proposal has been poorly received by the Marlborough hospitality industry, many of whom labelled it ridiculous.

Early last week the District Licensing Committee heard 19 spoken submissions on the council's draft local alcohol policy, with many questioning the origin and logic of the rule. Marlborough District Council staff member Mike Porter has said the proposal came from Judge John Hole, one of three District Court judges on the Alcohol Regulation and Licensing Authority.

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- The Marlborough Express

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