A decision on whether to grant a North Dunedin bottle
store a liquor licence will set a precedent for the sale of
alcohol in the student area, Dunedin's District Licensing
Committee chairman says.
Preet Minhas, formerly of Christchurch, has applied for a new
off-licence for The Liquor Shop in North Rd, which he bought
and has operated since earlier this year on a temporary
authority under the conditions of the existing licence.
Committee chairman Colin Weatherall says the decision is an
important early test of new alcohol laws.
What the committee does will be watched by other North
Dunedin licensees and will also be of interest to the Dunedin
City Council, which is drafting a local alcohol policy and is
looking to see how conditions not to promote sales of certain
types of alcohol in specific areas work in practice, he says.
The application and Mr Minhas' suitability to hold a licence
were challenged at the hearing by Dunedin police, the liquor
licensing officer and Public Health South.
The application was also opposed by the University of Otago,
Knox and Salmond student halls.
Objections included that the application did not uphold the
aim of the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to reduce
Mr Minhas' suitability was in question after he was last week
found to be selling piles of ''New Zealand's cheapest beers''
and 21 different kinds of RTDs from the North Rd store, they
In May, and again in June, he had agreed to comply with
conditions of the existing licence to sell only products for
the high-end market and not promote RTDs.
''The agencies were told one thing. Reality is another,''
liquor licensing officer Tony Mole said.
The conditions were put in place by the Alcohol Regulatory
and Licensing Agency (ARLA) last year when it granted the
existing licence in the spirit of the then incoming Act.
ARLA said at the time it recognised granting the licence
would increase the availability of alcohol in a community
principally made up of students, but because of the
high-priced nature of the products to be sold at the store,
there was unlikely to be a great effect on the student
Mr Minhas told the committee his intention was ''definitely''
to focus on the high-end market.
Because of debts the previous licensee left with suppliers,
he had struggled to get high-end spirit and craft beer, so he
stocked more common beers and RTDs in the meantime, he said.
Other stock was coming in now and RTDs would be moved further
back in the store.
The regulatory authorities questioned whether Mr Minhas could
be believed and said he had made it clear he would price his
stock to compete with other bottle stores.
The existing off-licence for The Liquor Shop is the first in
North Dunedin to carry a specific condition around promoting
RTDs, and Mr Minhas' the first off-licence application there
to come up under the new Act.
Enforcement action could be taken over Mr Minhas' apparent
breach of existing licence conditions, but that was a process
that at present took about 13 months, Mr Mole said.
Handling the matter through the application process was
likely to be much faster. The committee's decision is
expected early this week.