Assistant manager of Henry's Centre City Rebecca Glover restocks the wine shelves yesterday. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
Reduced hours for supermarket liquor sales, earlier closing
times for bars and other new rules are all under
consideration by the Dunedin City Council as it prepares to
release its local alcohol policy (Lap).
The new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act that came into force
in December last year has been described as ''inadequate''
and ''tweaks'' by those observing the effects in Dunedin so
The biggest change is the ability of local authorities to set
their own rules.
Police alcohol harm prevention officer Sgt Ian Paulin, of
Dunedin, said the main thing that had been picked up in the
new legislation so far was the definition of intoxication.
It is illegal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person but,
in the past, people have been able to argue successfully in
court that they did not know.
Closing hours have also been brought back to a maximum of
4am, although this can be further adjusted by local
authorities through their Lap. Police favour 3am closing
Dunedin bar owner Rob Dale said his bars were turning away at
least one-third of patrons for being too intoxicated because
of the pre-loading culture in Dunedin.
He said alcohol reforms had only decreased the number of
people drinking in bars, rather than the number of people
University of Otago Preventive and Social Medicine professor
and Alcohol Action New Zealand Dunedin spokeswoman Jennie
Connor said the new law was inadequate to meet its objective
of reducing harm from alcohol and left ''everything to be
The most effective strategies for changing drinking behaviour
were increasing the price of alcohol, reducing licensing
hours and number of outlets, raising the purchase age and
lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for driving, Prof
Council liquor licensing co-ordinator Kevin Mechen said the
draft Lap was due to be considered by the council's
regulatory committee on July 24.
It ''tried to balance what the community want, what the
research says and what the industry want''.
Every one of the 22 local alcohol policies put out across the
country so far has been appealed - with the big supermarket
chains particularly worried about reduced opening hours.
Regulatory committee chairman David Benson-Pope said the city
council had been holding off releasing its Lap until some of
the court cases had been sorted out elsewhere.
''Constraints on the off-licence sale of alcohol are going to
be hotly contested, particularly by the bottle stores and the
''There are huge cases running further north right now about
the sort of restrictions that we would want to include as
Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr
Marion Poore said the issue of pre-loading related to the
ease with which people could buy cheap alcohol from
off-licences and supermarkets.
She said it was ''a very challenging issue''.
- by Dan Hutchinson