Do New Zealand Communities have Greater Input to Local Alcohol Policy? Population Surveys Before and After New Legislation
New Zealand’s alcohol law reforms aimed to give communities greater control over alcohol availability. The study investigated whether community participation in local liquor licensing increased and why people did not participate.
Researchers invited 4000 randomly selected residents to complete a questionnaire in 2014 about their views on alcohol in their community, participation in local alcohol decision-making, alcohol consumption, and experience of alcohol-related harm. In 2017, researchers surveyed a new sample of 4000 residents, and invited the 2014 respondents to complete a follow-up questionnaire.
Response fractions were 44% in 2014 (n = 1657) and 37% in 2017 (n = 1376) for population surveys, and 61% (n = 887) for follow-up. Cross-sectional comparisons showed no marked change in proportions reporting ever having participated in alcohol policy development (4.9% in 2014 versus 5.1% in 2017), or who objected to a licence application in the preceding year (1.0% versus 1.4%). Longitudinal comparisons also suggested little change. The most common reasons 2017 respondents gave for not participating were not knowing where to start (39%), lack of time (36%), and needing more information (32%), and this order was similar in 2014.
Public participation in local liquor licencing is low and it has not increased substantially under the new legislation.