1 May 2012

Minister says alcohol bill gives community more say

11:17 pm on 1 May 2012

Justice Minister Judith Collins says alcohol reform legislation shows the Government is serious about letting the community have more say.

The Alcohol Reform Bill is back before Parliament for its committee stages in the next few weeks.

The bill contains new rules restricting the sale of ready-to-drink alcohol beverages (RTDs) in off-licences and bans dairies and smaller convenience shops from selling alcohol.

Ms Collins told Parliament on Tuesday the legislation will empower local communities to determine where and how alcohol is sold.

"Communities will be able to restrict and extend maximum opening hours; impose one-way doors, which means patrons who leave premises will not be able to return within a specified time; make sure alcohol outlets are not open near schools or churches; say no to more licences in their areas; and impose conditions on licensed premises."

Judith Collins confirmed MPs will have three options when they come to cast a conscience vote on the purchasing age for alcohol.

The legislation proposes to split the age people can buy alcohol: 18 for premises such as bars and restaurants, and 20 for the likes of supermarkets and liquor stores.

Ms Collins says as far as she is aware, there will be two further amendments:

"One providing for both the on-licence and off-licence purchasing age to be set at 20; and the other for the purchase age of both to be kept at the current age of 18.

"We're listening to the public of New Zealand and hoping to strike a balance between minimising harm and trusting responsible New Zealanders to make their own decisions about alcohol."

The Government wants to introduce new rules stopping off-licences selling RTDs with more than 6% alcohol content and one-and-a-half standard drinks per container. However, there will be no restriction on their sale at licensed premises such bars and restaurants.

Reforms also include restrictions on the provision of alcohol to under-age drinkers and new rules on the irresponsible promotion of alcohol.