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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with www.e-malt.com Danish
26 May, 2006

Brewing news New Zealand: Breweries call for tougher drinking rules

Beer companies want teenagers banned from drinking in public places and barred from driving with any alcohol in their blood - but they want to keep the right to sell them alcohol, The New Zealand Herald posted May 26.

Lion and DB Breweries presented their agenda to a parliamentary committee May 25. It included: a ban on under-20-year-olds drinking in public places, cutting the allowable blood alcohol level for drivers under 20 to zero, tighter restrictions on new liquor licences, which have more than doubled in the past few years, tougher penalties for liquor outlets which breach their licence conditions.

But the two brewers said a bill aimed at raising the legal drinking age to 20 and pushing alcohol advertising on television back from 8.30pm to 10pm would not achieve its goal of reducing the harm alcohol causes for young people.

Parliament's law and order committee heard a series of submissions in Auckland from health groups supporting the bill and from advertising agencies, broadcasters and liquor companies opposing it.

Brewery executives Liz Read from Lion and Mark Campbell from DB said they fully supported the goal of reducing alcohol-related harm and had prepared a paper offering options that would work better than the measures in the bill.

"Perhaps there is an opportunity to make it more difficult for young people to drink in a public place," Ms Read said.

"If it was illegal, for example, for a young person to drink in a public place, it may push them towards more controlled environments like licensed premises."

Mr Campbell said 70 per cent of young people got their alcohol from family and friends rather than buying it at liquor outlets, where the law prevented publicans from selling to people who were under 18 or intoxicated.

He said New Zealand had far more liquor licences than Australia proportionately - one for every 258 people in this country compared with one for every 494 people in New South Wales.

He suggested raising the cost of a liquor licence from "a few hundred dollars" to "a substantial cost".

The number of liquor licences has ballooned from 6275 to 14,494 since the liquor laws were liberalised in 1988, and particularly since supermarkets and dairies were allowed to sell alcohol in the late 1990s.

"The test should be tougher - knowing the Sale of Liquor Act, knowing what you can and can't do, what the compliance requirements are and also the penalties of breaching the act," Mr Campbell said.

"At the moment the law does not make it tough if you breach the act. There is a fine. We should get tougher."

He said one of the problems facing the industry was that the number of traditional "pubs" was declining, while takeaway liquor outlets proliferated in every corner store.

Health agencies agreed there were now too many liquor outlets. Sharon Muru of Bay of Plenty public health agency Toi Te Ora said a study found proportionately more outlets in poorer areas such as Kawerau and Opotiki than in the richer districts of Tauranga and the Western Bay.

On a national basis, Auckland has the fewest liquor outlets at one for every 344 people. Isolated rural regions such as the West Coast and the Chatham Islands have proportionately the most outlets.

"International evidence confirms that a high density of alcohol outlets is directly correlated with increased alcohol-related harm," Toi Te Ora said in its submission.

The agency suggested a population-based "cap" on the number of outlets in each district.


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