Dairies, supermarkets hit by alcohol bill

Dominion Post 26/08/2011

A bill banning dairies from selling liquor and forcing supermarkets to hide it away is “devoid of any substantial measures” and was more like a “non-reform bill”, critics say. The select committee that considered the Alcohol Reform Bill for close to 100 hours finally reported its findings last night, and Justice Minister Simon Power immediately announced that the Government would accept all 130 of its suggested changes.
The committee did not suggest changes to drink-driving levels or to the proposed split purchase age, which would allow 18-year-olds to drink in a bar but not to buy from an off-licence until they are 20. The updated bill will get a second reading before Parliament rises for the November election but it will almost certainly have to wait until next year before passing into law.
Critics slam alcohol changes, chair says patience needed
ONE News 26 August 2011 Critics say the sale and marketing of alcohol still needs to be addressed despite changes made to the Government’s controversial Alcohol Reform Bill. …Changes to the way supermarkets can display and sell alcohol, forcing them to create a separate section for alcohol, have done nothing to quieten critics. Bell says the reforms are essentially “a bit of smoke and mirrors” because it ignores the larger problem of bulk-purchasing power, which allows alcohol suppliers to offer heavily reduced prices. In response to such criticisms, National MP and committee chair Chester Borrows told TV ONE’s Breakfast that the reforms do contribute to solving the problem of binge-drinking. “I don’t think they recognise how far we’ve come,” said Borrows. “We’ve spent 80 years liberalising our laws, and to jump all the way back and constrain them as far as [critics] want in one leap is quite a big jump. Our new liquor laws will make a difference – in a couple of years, once we’ve done studies on various aspects like advertising.” However, Borrows said the Government plans to look at further changes that will eventually address all the points made in the 8000 submissions from lobby groups and the public. “This is the first time in about 80 years that there’s been a call from the public to constrain alcohol laws. To those that say we haven’t gone far enough, they need to consider that we’ve done about three-quarters of what they wanted. And the rest we’ll get to in time.” One such critic, Family First, says the reforms will have little effect on binge-drinking. “The binge drinking culture has been spiralling out of control as we have liberalised laws and controls around alcohol abuse. In 1989 alcohol law changes eased restrictions for off-licence selling … then in 1999 we foolishly lowered the drinking age,” said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First. “In response, politicians have tackled the festering sore of alcohol harm with a tickle.”