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Auckland Council halts liquor sales to 9pm cut off time

  • News
  • May 13, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Auckland Council halts liquor sales to 9pm cut off time

The policy is called the Provisional Auckland Council Local Alcohol Policy and passed today by 14 votes to one.

Off-licences will now only be able to sell booze between 9am to 9pm.

This replaces the current hours of 7am until 11pm.

The policy is also enforcing a two-year ban on new off-license liquor shops opening in areas deemed most at risk of alcohol harm.

It covers Auckland’s central city, as well as 23 of the “at risk” suburbs.

Some of these suburbs include Otara, Wellsford and Te Hana, Mangere and Henderson.

Franklin Ward councillor Bill Cashmore asked how much alcohol is sold beyond 9am to 9pm.

“By reducing back to 9pm, can we stop those bad decision-makers, who wander down to the alcohol store at quarter to 10 and buy that other box, or that bottle of [Jim] Beam, or whatever?”

The one councillor who voted against it, Orakei representative Cameron Brewer, says it’s a “back to the future” step.

“I don’t believe penalising early morning mum or dad grocery shoppers or the likes of shift workers in the evening will make any difference whatsoever,” Brewer says.

He voiced his concerns for supermarket chains, which he says are very heavily regulated and supervised.

“Not even a little old lady can buy a bottle of wine without a supervisor being called to eye her up and sign it off,” he says.

“These places are well lit and effectively well ‘policed’ by the general public queued up behind any purchaser. Yet when it comes to maximum hours they’re effectively now being treated like the worst of our backstreet bottle stores.”

He says the purpose of the Sale And Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 was to minimise alcohol harm.

There were 93 comments made requesting an exemption for supermarkets from the policy, including 50 submissions from Progressive Enterprises Ltd (Countdown’s owner).

The council decided there was no reason to grant exceptions to supermarkets.

Several industry submitters, including SkyCity and the Brewers Association, suggested the ruling goes beyond the powers afforded to the council by the Act.

They also said it undermines the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority and and District Licensing Committee’s decisions.

Liquorland CEO Rod Gibson says his company supports the objective behind the legislation, which is to minimize the harm caused by alcohol and give communities greater say in the supply of alcohol locally.

Liquorland’s Auckland stores close 9pm or 10pm at the latest, so Gibson says reducing trading hours isn’t likely to have a material impact on them.

However, he says local policy needs to be evidence based and directly related to that community.

“We are not aware of any Auckland-specific studies on off-license trading hours that demonstrate that a reduction in hours will materially reduce alcohol related harm,” Gibson says.

Those who oppose the legislation have 30 days to lodge an appeal with the Alcohol regulatory and Licensing Authority.

Otherwise, the new rules are set to kick in by Christmas. 

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