Hayne's view lacks 'rigour'

Cumberland St Super Liquor, next to a service station forecourt, seeks renewal of its licence...
Cumberland St Super Liquor, next to a service station forecourt, seeks renewal of its licence.PHOTO: ODT FILES
One of New Zealand's largest liquor companies says University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne's ''rant'' about North Dunedin liquor outlets lacks ''intellectual rigour''.

Prof Hayne has called on the Dunedin district licensing committee to do ''all in its power to address the proliferation'' of liquor outlets around the student quarter as part of the university's opposition to a licence application by Cumberland St Super Liquor.

Independent Liquor general manager Mark Strachan, in a letter tabled at yesterday's hearing, said Prof Hayne's argument lacked the ``intellectual rigour which we would normally expect from a respected university''.

``It is instead a very general rant against the current New Zealand alcohol culture rather than being related to one particular licensed premises,'' Mr Strachan said.

Prof Hayne's argument there had been a ``proliferation'' of liquor outlets in North Dunedin was a ''factual error''. There had only been one new licence granted in the past two years and that store had since closed.

He also criticised Prof Hayne's comments about ``inadequate restrictions of hours and days of sale of alcohol''.

``Not even the churches still rail about what days alcohol can be sold on, so that perhaps puts the university's mind-set in perspective,'' he said.

Prof Hayne yesterday stood by her comments, saying in a statement the university's key concern was the density of liquor outlets in North Dunedin.

``We know that the density of liquor outlets is a key driver of alcohol consumption by young people. From this perspective, less is more and that includes the sale of liquor at supermarkets.''

The committee yesterday heard arguments about Cumberland St Super Liquor's application for a renewal of its licence.

Most of the debate centred on its position next to a service station forecourt - which authorities said was not permitted under the new legislation - and the high rates of alcohol-fuelled harm in the surrounding student quarter.

Counsel for the applicant Paul Buckner said there was an ``element of unfairness'' in the way the owners of Super Liquor had been treated.

However, the owners did accept a recent Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority decision presented problems when it came to having a liquor store next to a service station.

To remedy that problem, the owners were willing to look at alternative access options, including building a fence to create a roughly 2m-wide corridor, meaning it could be accessed from Howe St but not the service station forecourt, he said.

Being forced to close the store would cause economic hardship as the owners were midway through a lease and had debt associated with the business.

He argued drinking behaviour in the area would continue unchanged if the store was closed as students would simply go further afield to get their alcohol.

Alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian Paulin questioned the argument supermarkets sold cheaper liquor than liquor stores.

At present, an 18-pack of Woodstock RTDs was selling for $30 on special, which equated to $1.19 per standard drink, compared with a ``good special'' of $20 for a 15-pack of beers at a supermarket, which equated to $1.33 per standard drink.

``The applicant says they don't sell cheap liquor, they sell cheap liquor cheaper than the supermarkets.''

Sgt Paulin later pointed to police statistics which showed police attended 388 alcohol-related jobs in the North Dunedin area last year.

The statistics did not take into account some of the parties that police attended, which regularly spilled on to the streets.

``There is no doubt that the area is badly affected by alcohol harm and strong inferences can be made that link this premises with that harm,'' he said.

If the committee wished to grant the application, it should at least limit hours of operation as a way of controlling alcohol-related harm.

Southern District Health Board representative Toni Paterson pointed to statistics showing high rates of alcohol-related presentations among young people to Dunedin Hospital's emergency department.

Council licensing inspector Tony Mole raised issues about the proposal to build a wall linking the entrance with Howe St, saying the NZ Transport Agency expressed concern about access off that street in the initial hearing over land use consent for the store.

Committee chairman Colin Weatherall adjourned the hearing for about a month to give the applicant time to come up with plans for alternative access to the site or relocating the store.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

Mr Strachan is 100% correct. Sadly, Ms Hayne's stance is what we've come to expect from OU leadership over the last dozen years.

Mr Strachan's view lacks a responsible attitude to the student community. The University, 'in loco parentis', rails because churches have forgotten how.

 

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