Off-licences' hours 'must not be cut'

21:38, Jun 18 2014

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

Rural Contractors New Zealand spokesman John Hughes, speaking at the hearing for the combined draft local alcohol policy, said more than 800 contractors employed in Southland were often working long hours, and travelled up to 100 kilometres away from home for work.

There was a danger of encouraging mixing fatigue with drink-driving if workers could not pick up a drink on their way home, he said. "Many [contractors] would rather go home and have a beer than go to an on-licence, have a drink, and drive home."

No-one on the panel responded to his concerns.

Hotly contested proposals included a policy that would force off-licence alcohol outlets to close by 10pm in Invercargill and Gore, introducing a trial one-way-door policy, and restricting the distance between "sensitive" buildings and on-licenced premises.

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey, who spoke of behalf of the Invercargill and Mataura Licensing Trusts, said cuts to off-licence opening hours would penalise rural and shift workers, who made up the majority of people who bought alcohol late at night.


He had serious concerns about a proposal to trial a one-way-door policy, which would see bars or clubs decline entry after 1am, he said.

"[The policy would be] creating a pressure point for behavioural problems at 1am as well as at closing."

Increased restrictions so soon after the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which was implemented last year, were unjustified, he said.

"If it was such a good idea, it would have been brought in with the act."

Hearing panel members queried Mulvey if there would financial impact with the proposed changes and how the trust defined a "young person".

Mulvey said there had been a massive decline in young people attending bars in the Invercargill CBD during the past 10 years.

As for changes in trade, the trust used to experience busy nights on Thursday to Saturday, but now it focused on Saturday nights.

Representatives of the Southern Primary Health Organisation and Southern District Health Board commended the councils on the policy, despite saying it did not go far enough.

Both organisations wanted restrictions for on-licences operating or advertising within 50 metres of schools, churches, or other sensitive buildings increased to 200m.

Submissions will be heard tomorrow morning in Te Anau and in Gore in the afternoon.

The Southland Times