Wellington Bar Owners’ Plight Exposes The Interventionist Approach Of Licensing Agencies In Alcohol Licensing Regime

Published: Fri 13 Oct 2023 01:12 PM
“Recent publicity of Wellington Bar owners concerns over the litigious approach to alcohol licencing highlights widespread licencing problems faced by small businesses across New Zealand.” says NZABC Committee member and Brewers Association of NZ Executive Director Dylan Firth.
“As a sector we [whole heartedly] support the message this group of Wellington business owners is presenting. While many regions in New Zealand have collaborative and reasonable interactions with their licencing agencies. A number of regions’ licensing agencies appear to have no regard for the desire of communities to have a vibrant city and rarely understand the investment realities of small businesses. And at the same time, they place unreasonable blame on well-run premises for wider social issues.”
“There is little evidence that this type of approach improves community outcomes.”
“NZABC whole heartedly supports the ability for communities to raise issues and concerns about licence-holders where the evidence exists to support these concerns. But increasingly more and more unreasonable licence conditions are being required by licensing agencies onto on and off-premise businesses with little or no evidence they will make a difference to the reduction of alcohol related harm, as required by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.
“This type of pressure is happening across the country and includes measures such as setting a minimum price of beer and no sales of cask wine sales in off-licences, or the banning of specific brands. We believe this type of action is not only unlawful but also does nothing to reduce harmful drinking.”
“Since 2010 the number of licences nationwide has declined by more than 23%.[1]
“Research tells us that the vast majority of New Zealanders drink responsibly. New Zealanders are drinking 25% less now than they did in the late 1970s[2]. Further, harmful drinking – particularly among younger drinkers – has also fallen.”
“There is need for sensible evidence based approach to alcohol licencing. Good, experienced bar and off-licence businesses are facing ever increasing costs and restrictions. The industry was decimated by the pandemic and had been told it had the support of Government. The approach being taken by agencies sure doesn’t feel like it”.

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