Contractor speaks against liquor policy

Rural contractors could end up drink-driving if off-licence opening hours are cut back, an industry spokesman says.

The hearing for the combined draft local alcohol policy began at the Civic Theatre, in Invercargill, this morning.

One of the hotly contested proposals is to force off-licence alcohol outlets to close by 10pm in Invercargill and Gore, and 11pm in the wider Southland district.

Rural Contractors New Zealand spokesman John Hughes spoke to the combined Local Alcohol Policy Committee against the policy.

"Many [contractors] would rather go home and have a beer than go to an on-licence, have a drink, and drive home," Hughes said.

Contractors were often working big days, and wouldn't finish work until after dark, if not until the early hours of the morning. There was a danger of encouraging mixing fatigue with drink-driving if workers could not pick up a drink on their way home, Hughes said.

Southern Primary Health Organisation spokeswoman Louise Thompson said her group supported the policy but that it did not go far enough.

The draft policy proposes restrictions on on-licences operating or advertising within 50 metres of schools, churches, or other sensitive buildings but the Southern PHO wants that increased to 200m.

The hearing continues in Invercargill today. Submissions will be heard tomorrow morning in Te Anau and in Gore in the afternoon.

The Southland Times