New liquor laws 'dog's breakfast' - Dickerson

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 10:28 12/12/2012
Andy Dickerson
CDHB member Andy Dickerson.

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The Alcohol Reform Bill has been slammed as a ''dog's breakfast'' by a Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) member who says it does not address the issues of binge drinking and alcohol abuse.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Bill, the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill and the Summary Offences (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill were passed last night.

The law will ban displays and advertising of alcohol in supermarkets.

It will also require parents to give permission for their children to be given alcohol.

But CDHB member Andy Dickerson said the new legislation was "timid".

"Every year the Canterbury District Health Board spends tens of millions of dollars on both treating alcohol addiction and treating patients injured in violent attacks, sexual assaults, domestic violence and motor vehicle accidents directly or indirectly resulting from alcohol abuse,'' he said.

"Alcohol is also the leading cause of violent attacks on our nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers.

''If the Government was serious about cutting unnecessary public expenditure and reducing violent crime it would have comprehensive alcohol reform at the top of its agenda.

"Instead, it has passed legislation that, in my opinion, is timid."

Dickerson said the bill was a ''dog's breakfast'' and he would have liked to see the purchase age for alcohol raised, pricing reviewed and tougher restrictions on the marketing and advertising of alcohol.

''Members of Parliament need to spend more time listening to doctors, nurses, ambulance officers, police and community workers about the alcohol abuse they see every day in their work,'' he said.

The Christchurch City Council plans to take immediate advantage of the new legislation, which enables local authorities to create their own policies to regulate on and off-licences and to dictate licensing conditions.

That could include stricter opening hours for bars or liquor stores or banning bottle shops near schools.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the bill was a milestone.

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

"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."

MPs had already voted on the clauses and amendments to the three bills, including a majority vote to keep the purchase age at 18.

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- The Press

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