Alcohol Reform Bill through faster

Kevin Mechen
Kevin Mechen
A last-minute change in Parliament will have the Alcohol Reform Bill put through its third and final reading next month, bringing forward likely requirements for Dunedin bar owners to pay higher fees.

At its meeting this week, the Dunedin City Council's planning and environment committee was told the Bill would not be considered until some time next year.

That advice came from DCC liquor licensing and projects officer Kevin Mechen, who said the Bill was No 20 on the parliamentary order paper as of Tuesday morning.

But on Wednesday, Parliament's business select committee determined that the remaining committee stage of the Bill would be set down as Government order of the day No 1 on December 6.

It also determined debate would take place on Part 6 of the Bill relating to licensing trusts, community and other matters, the new Part 8 about amendments to excise tax and excise-equivalent duties tables, and the new Part 11 which was an amendment to the Land Transport Act 1998.

At 5.30pm on December 6 any questions on the Bill would be considered as well as any motion to divide the document, without further debate.

The order of the day for the third reading of the Bill would be taken on December 11, the committee determined.

Fast-tracking the Bill means Dunedin publicans are closer to implementation of its requirements, likely to include a doubling of application fees and shorter renewal periods.

Additional work placed on the city council was also likely to mean associated costs passed on to liquor licence applicants under the new legislation.

During its initial stages Dunedin bar owners warned the Bill would force premises to close as a result of increased fees.

The council was waiting for a final report on how changes would affect the city, which would be drafted once the Bill passed its third reading.

Yesterday, Mr Mechen said although the Bill would be considered before Christmas, there would be no immediate impact on Dunedin businesses.

A new fee structure was part of the associated Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations, which traditionally took 12 months to be passed by Parliament, he said.

"Businesses can expect to pay more for their licences from about this time next year."

Mr Mechen said new licensing criteria would apply six months after the Act was implemented, which might impact on some businesses.

"But until the law goes through the final reading, the new criteria won't be known for sure," he said.

The council was as ready as it could be, without knowing the final criteria.

"There will be quite a lot of work going forward because new structures are needed and new processes to fit with these," Mr Mechen said.




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