MPs pass new alcohol legislation

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 18:24 11/12/2012

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New alcohol legislation has been passed in Parliament tonight.
 
Members of Parliament had already voted on the clauses and amendments to three bills, including a majority vote to keep the alcohol purchase age at 18.

The bills also include moves to allow communities a say on alcohol licensing, introduces stronger rules on the types of stores able to sell alcohol and restricts supermarkets and grocery stores to displaying alcohol in a single area.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Bill, the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill and the Summary Offences (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill were passed in Parliament tonight with a majority vote on all three.

All 59 National MPs voted for the bills to be passed into law, while 32 Labour MPs voted for them and two against.
 
The Maori Party, New Zealand First and now independent MP Brendan Horan voted against the bills while the Greens, ACT and United Future voted for them.
 
The three bills stemmed from the Alcohol Reform Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in mid 2010, in response to a Law Commission report.
 
The bills have been widely criticised for failing to debate all the issues on alcohol reform and seen as a lost opportunity as it's the first time New Zealand's alcohol law has been reviewed in more than 20 years.
 
Some critics have said the bill, which received more than 5,000 submissions during the consultation phase, should be more appropriately labelled the "alcohol non-reform bill".
 
Its passing into law confirms that the alcohol age will remain at 18, a majority decision made by Parliament in August.
 
Supplementary orders to the bill, including calls to establish a minimum pricing threshold and a ban on the sale of RTDs containing more than 5 per cent alcohol, did not receive a majority vote so were not included in the final bill. 
 
Justice Minister Judith Collins said the bill marked a major milestone.

"For the first time in more than two decades Parliament has acted to restrict, rather than relax, our drinking laws.

"The Government recognises that social change cannot be achieved through legislation alone. We are all responsible for reducing alcohol-related harm and for changing our drinking culture. We all have a part to play."

The new laws will come into force in stages.

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