Alcohol Law reform is coming at last

Every person across Aotearoa has the right to grow up and live in a community free from alcohol-related harm, where the price and availability of alcohol are regulated and monitored, ensuring our neighbourhoods are safe and happy places to live. 

But right now, the alcohol industry repeatedly stymies Regional Councils’ efforts to establish a Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) through ongoing and costly legal appeals, leading to the watering down of LAPs and Regional Councils abandoning the process altogether. The insufficient Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act has led to cheap and readily available alcohol proliferating our streets and neighbourhoods, particularly in communities with fewer material resources.

The law must change to swing the pendulum back to greater community control. The community must have a more significant say in deciding how alcohol is sold, where it is sold and how readily it is available. 

The National Government introduced the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in 2012 to give communities more say over how liquor was sold and consumed. But the Act had gaping holes and, instead, created a framework which left communities with little influence and power over how alcohol is sold and available in their neighbourhoods.

Auckland's LAP, which would have introduced evidence-based harm reduction actions such as limiting the opening hours of retail and reducing the number of stores in neighbourhoods, has been blocked by the alcohol industry for seven years. This has cost Auckland Council over $ 1 million in legal fees and is currently being appealed by the supermarket duopoly in the Supreme Court. Similar stories span Aotearoa, alongside Wellington and Christchurch abandoning the policy altogether.  

Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan announced over the weekend that a Bill proposing changes to the alcohol licensing process will be introduced this year to pass it into law by mid-2023. These changes include:

  • Removing the ability to appeal the LAPs
  • Reviewing the rules around local people's ability to object to a new or renewed alcohol license application and how objectors can make their case at a licensing hearing 


Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan, continues.

"These amendments are just the first steps in fixing alcohol laws. The Government will be doing future work to look at licensing structures and processes, marketing and sponsorship, pricing, and changes to ensure the law is responsive to new products and retail models.

"While no decisions have been made, our intention is to tilt the balance away from the alcohol industry towards giving community a greater voice and ensuring we are doing more to address the significant impact alcohol has on our communities, whānau and health system.”

Healthy Families Waitākere welcomes the proposed 'first step' changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, alongside future work to review licensing structures and processes, marketing and sponsorship, pricing, and changes to ensure the law is responsive to new products and retail models.


Article added: Wednesday 02 November 2022


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