Hon Simon Power
Minister of Justice
23 August 2010 Media Statement
Government outlines balanced plan for alcohol reform
Justice Minister Simon Power has today unveiled the Government’s integrated and comprehensive alcohol law reform
The package responds to the Law Commission’s review of alcohol laws contained in the report: Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm.
“The statistics can’t be ignored and clearly show a problem with alcohol that must be addressed,” Mr Power said.
“Alcohol is estimated to contribute to 1,000 deaths a year, and is a major driver of crime, being implicated in 30 per
cent of all police recorded offences, 34 per cent of recorded family violence, and 50 per cent of all homicides.
“What the Government has heard from the New Zealand public is that the pendulum has swung too far towards relaxation of
“Today we are responding to the public’s call for action. This package adopts in full, or in part, 126 of the 153 Law
Commission recommendations, as well as making other changes.
“It focuses on minimising alcohol-related harm, including crime, disorder, and public health problems, and zeros in on
where harm is occurring – particularly around youth.
“But there is a balance to be struck between not unfairly affecting responsible drinkers and dealing with the
considerable harm alcohol causes.”
Key features of the package include:
• Introducing a graduated approach to purchasing alcohol – 18 years of age for on-licences and 20 years of age for
• Restricting RTDs to 5 per cent alcohol content and limiting RTDs to containers holding no more than 1.5 standard
• Making it an offence for anyone other than a parent or guardian to provide alcohol to an under-18-year-old
without a parent’s or guardian’s consent.
• Where alcohol is provided to an under-18-year-old the parent, guardian or authorised person will need to ensure
the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.
• Allowing the Minister of Justice, in consultation with the Minister of Health, to ban alcohol products which are
particularly appealing to minors or particularly dangerous to health.
• Empowering local communities to decide on the concentration, location, and hours of alcohol outlets (including
one-way-door policies) for both on and off-licences in their area through the adoption of local alcohol policies.
• Setting national default maximum hours of 7am – 11pm for off-licences and 8am – 4am for on-licence, club
licence, and special licences for local authorities who do not adopt a local alcohol policy.
• Broadening the matters that must be considered in licensing decision-making to include such things as the object
of the Act, the provision of the local alcohol policy, and whether the amenity or good order of the area would be
lessened if the licence is granted.
• Strengthening the law on the type of stores eligible for an off-licence to reinforce the current approach that
dairies and convenience stores are not eligible.
• Increasing penalties for a range of licence breaches, including allowing an intoxicated person to be on licensed
premises, allowing violent behaviour to take place on premises, and running an irresponsible promotion.
• Widening the definition of ‘public place’ in liquor bans to include car parks, school grounds and other private
spaces to which the public has legitimate access.
• Strengthening the existing offence of promotion of excessive consumption of alcohol by making it apply to any business
selling or promoting alcohol, and setting out examples of unacceptable promotions, such as giving away free alcohol.
• Making it an offence to promote alcohol in a way that has special appeal to people under the purchase age. These
changes will apply to any promotion, including TV advertising and billboards.
• Investigating a minimum pricing regime by giving retailers a year to provide sales and price data. If they are
not forthcoming the Government will consider regulatory options for obtaining this data.
• Improving public education and treatment services for people with dependency issues.
• Requiring Parliament to lead by example by removing its licensing exemption.
“This package is a starting point for Parliament’s consideration of our alcohol laws and we will listen carefully to the
public through the select committee process.
“I hope to introduce legislation to Parliament in October and plan to pass it into law before the end of this
Questions and answers on the package, a copy of the Cabinet paper, the Regulatory Impact Statement, and other supporting
materials are available on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.govtnz
and the Beehive website www.beehivegovt.nz