Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has blasted the Government's
''ham-fisted'' legal-high legislation, saying it threatens to
leave councils and ratepayers exposed to court action.
Mr Cull told councillors at yesterday's planning and
regulatory committee meeting the Psychoactive Substances Act
gave councils the power to develop policies to control the
location of legal-high retailers.
However, the Ministry of Health's Psychoactive Substances
Regulatory Authority could ignore those policies when issuing
licences to those retailers, Mr Cull said.
It was among concerns raised during a gathering of South
Island councils in Invercargill last week.
At yesterday's committee meeting, Mr Cull gave a blunt
assessment of the legislation: ''Ham-fisted would be a
His comments came as councillors approved a submission to the
ministry, which was consulting councils on regulations that
would provide more detailed direction on implementing the
The submission, written by planning and regulatory committee
chairman Cr David Benson-Pope, reiterated council concerns
and warned the new approach could create difficulties.
Either the authority would not consider council policies
before deciding licences or, if it declined a licence based
on council policies, those decisions ''could be challenged in
''This will mean Dunedin's [policy] will be unenforceable and
that the wishes of our community could be overridden,'' Cr
Mr Cull told yesterday's meeting the new approach legalised
and legitimised ''toxic'' substances but gave councils
''inadequate'' tools to control the process.
The legislation was inconsistent with the approach taken to
control alcohol and gambling in communities, but politicians
in Wellington appeared uninterested in the potential problems
- and costs - created for councils, he said.
''They cost our ratepayers money and their apparent
disinterest in Parliament ... seems, to me, remiss,'' Mr Cull
''It's unfortunate that ... parliamentarians don't seem to
understand the implications of their own legislation.''
His comments came after he and Dunedin-based National MP
Michael Woodhouse engaged in a public war of words over the
issue last week.
Mr Woodhouse told The Star newspaper Mr Cull had been
''publicly hand-wringing'' over the issue, when the council
needed to ''get off their butts and get moving'' to complete
work on its policy for Dunedin.
Mr Cull responded by saying the Government had ''made a
balls-up'' of the legislation, while the council was working
''prudently'' to avoid wasting money ''trying to plug holes
in inadequate central government legislation''.
Council liquor licensing and projects officer Kevin Mechen
told yesterday's meeting he had completed a draft local
approved products policy (LAPP) that would control the
location of psychoactive substances retailers in Dunedin.
It and the council's draft local alcohol policy would be
considered together by councillors at a non-public workshop
on April 28, before being released for public consultation
following the meeting.