August 11, 2008

Govt Plans Curbs on Liquor Sales


THE Government plans to crack down on liquor licensing by banning small grocery stores from selling alcohol and tightening laws around supplying young people with booze.

Communities and local authorities will get more say over when and where alcohol can be sold and liquor licensing authorities will be able to consider the social effects of granting licences.

The Law Commission is to undertake a three-year review of liquor licensing laws, the first in 20 years, and report back to Parliament with a draft bill. It will consider minimum age restrictions, the proliferation of small off-licence liquor shops such as dairies and the effects of advertising and discounted-liquor promotions on drinking habits and crime rates.

Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel unveiled the Sale of Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill yesterday.

It follows a spate of violence in South Auckland, including the killing of Indian liquor store owner Navtej Singh. Police and the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, have blamed a proliferation of liquor shops for a surge in violent crime.

About 15,000 liquor licences are now on issue -- more than 4500 for off-licence bottle shops, grocery stores and supermarkets.

Ms Dalziel said the moves reflected public concern and police advice on alcohol availability.

In the south, Otatara 4 Square owner Chris Jackson said he would get his tape measure out to find out if he would encounter any problems.

"But I am pretty sure its big enough," he said.

Invercargill police raid squad head Sergeant John Harris supported the measures in a bid to control alcohol-related problems within the city.

"And anything the Government can do that can curb that gets my approval." PROPOSED CHANGES Changes under the bill include: Grocery stores smaller than 150 square metres will lose the right to sell wine and beer.

Local authorities will get more power to decide how alcohol is sold in their areas, including bar opening hours.

It will become illegal to supply alcohol to minors without the permission of a parent or guardian.

A zero-alcohol limit will be introduced for drivers under the age of 20 who do not hold a full licence.

A "three strikes and you're out" provision for liquor shop managers prosecuted for selling to minors.

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