Liquor bill fails to impress Hospitality NZ

Liquor abuse is unlikely to disappear through the proposed Sale and Supply of Liquor Bill, Timaru hospitality industry representatives were told yesterday.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson told about 40 licensees and interested parties at the South Canterbury Tri-Agency Partnership's inaugural breakfast that he did not think the bill, which is facing its third reading in Parliament next Tuesday, would reduce liquor abuse.

"The focus is on licensed premises which are already responsible. I fail to see how it will make any difference," he said.

Devolvement of central government responsibility to local government, more difficulty getting some licences and potentially higher compliance costs were just some of the issues raised at the event, which was organised by the Canterbury District Health Board, Timaru District Council and police.

The Tri-Agency partnership's aim is to bring those working with alcohol together for discussion.

Easy access to cheap alcohol through supermarkets and stores contributing to the drinking culture is not being covered in the new act, to the disappointment of licensees.

Less than 25 per cent of alcohol sold in New Zealand is through licensed premises - the rest is through supermarkets and grocery stores making it easy and cheap for consumers to drink at home with no constraints.

"The safest place to consume alcohol is in a bar or restaurant rather than an unlicensed shed or party," Mr Robertson said.

Speight's Ale House owner Nigel Bowen would like to see a standard unit price on alcohol which supermarkets had to adhere to.

Earlier, retired Liquor Licensing Authority judge and former Timaru lawyer Bill Unwin had talked about the degree of difficulty in obtaining particular licences. "Renewal and application [of a liquor licence] will be OK for a bowling club but tough for a late-night venue. It will be easier for the council to refuse."

Tomorrow the remaining aspects of the bill will be debated in Parliament before its third reading set down for December 11.

The Timaru Herald