New Zealand: Justice Minister Plans Alcohol Law Review
Justice Minister Andrew Little is concerned about the alcohol industry overpowering local alcohol laws and says he wants a review of the laws soon.
In 2012, New Zealand passed the Alcohol Sale and Supply Act. But, as IOGT International reported earlier this was a watered down version from the The 2010 Law Commission report, “Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm” which laid out 153 recommendations for preventing and reducing the harm of alcohol to society.
The Act gives power to local councils to control alcohol within their areas.
But, according to doctors, these local alcohol laws do not work as intended since the alcohol industry blocks councils’ attempts to limit the number of places where alcohol is sold, and the times it can be sold.
Medical officers of health from New Zealand’s three biggest cities have called for urgent, meaningful action by the Government to address the growing harm from alcohol in the country.
The biggest problem is that local people have to take on national or international companies,” said Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, as per Newshub.
The way the Act is set up in many ways increases the vulnerability of local people.”
Justice Minister Andrew Little says he wants the laws reviewed within an year or two.
We are close to a time where it will be appropriate to look at whether the Act is achieving the objectives originally set for it,” said Andrew Little, Justice Minister of New Zealand as per Newshub.
Alcohol harm grows while policy fails
According to another article by Newshub, documenting the alcohol damage with police, in a three-hour period, there were calls registering assaults, gross intoxication, liquor ban breaches, attempted suicides and driving under the influence of alcohol. This showed that alcohol was involved in pretty much every call-out.
“On a Friday, Saturday night, I would say between 90 and 95%,” said Sergeant Anne McMillan, from the Auckland alcohol harm prevention unit, as per Newshub.
“[We see] violence, family harm – just people that are so intoxicated they can’t look after themselves.”
The Ministry of Health says harm from alcohol is now costing New Zealand more than $7 billion every year. In fact, every Kiwi pays $1635 a year for this societal alcohol harm.
Solutions are at hand
It is evident that New Zealand needs to take urgent action to curb alcohol harm and alcohol industry interference. The Justice Minister has stated as part of the review he plans to look at the Law Commission Report produced in 2010.
The Law Commission Report of 2010 included WHO recommended evidence based policy measures for alcohol control such as:
- Raising the price of alcohol by an average of 10% through excise tax increases,
- Regulating irresponsible promotions that encourage excessive consumption, or purchase of alcohol,
- Introducing national maximum closing hours for both on- and off-licences (4am and 10pm respectively),
- Moving over time to regulate alcohol advertising and sponsorship.
It is now more than ever crucial for the government to take action and protect New Zealanders from harm. Comprehensive alcohol control policy which is not influenced by the alcohol industry and their private profit interests at the cost of public health is necessary to reach this goal.