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May 7, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Government Calls Last Drinks

Drunk students ready to scrap.

The Government’s proposed changes to the liquor laws have been outlined in a final proposal to be considered by Parliament this month.

Justice Minister Judith Collins believes the Bill will reduce access to alcohol through measures like preventing the sale of liquor at convenience stores.

”The changes support a shift in drinking culture, away from drinking to excess, towards responsible, moderate alcohol consumption,” Collins said.

Labour says the reforms are “weak” and is planning to make two amendments to the bill.

Collins believes that if the Government is accused of being too soft by some and too hard by others then they are probably “about right”.

“It’s a difficult area”, she said.

The Government’s final proposal is set to go before Parliament next month. It will begin with a conscience vote on the drinking age, which the Government wants to be split.

The Bill was introduced in 2010 and has passed its first and second readings, as well as consideration by the select committee.

A Law Commission report on the Bill put forward 153 recommendations to the Government, though they are not following through on all of them.

Labour Associate Spokeswoman for Justice, Lianne Dalziel believes that the Government has made all the easy decisions, and avoided the hard ones which would make a difference.

“There are hard decisions that need to be made and I’m afraid that this government has fallen well short of the mark,” Dalziel said.

“They haven’t been courageous enough to make the hard decisions,”

Green Party Health spokesperson Kevin Hague believes the Bill will not make any difference to the drinking culture in New Zealand and described the proposed changes as a “major disappointment.”

“It doesn’t make the major impact it needs to on price, hours and availability, which are the things that make the big difference,” Hague said.

Dalziel has also said that splitting the age will not change New Zealand’s drinking culture.

“I don’t think we will solve the problem until we deal with the real hard issues, which are about price and availability.”

The Government wants change, but nothing too drastic, according to Collins.

“We don’t want the laws to be so restrictive that people just ignore them,” Collins said.

The bill is expected to be passed into law when it goes before Parliament next month.

THE PROPOSED CHANGES:

  • ▴  The drinking age will be spilt: 20 for off-licenses and 18 for pubs;
  • ▴  Minors will need parental consent to drink;
  • ▴  Dairies will no longer be able to sell alcohol;
  • ▴  Alcohol displays in supermarkets will be restricted to a single spot, somewhere discreet;
  • ▴  Communities will be granted greater powers to create their own alcohol policies, for example, deciding how many liquor stores there are and where;
  • ▴  Trading hours will be reduced: from 8am to 4am for bars and clubs, and 7am to 11pm for off licenses.
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