The package includes:
* A split purchase age for 18 for on-licences (bars and restaurants) and 20 for off-licences (liquor outlets and supermarkets)
* Having national trading hours of 7am-11pm for off-licences and 8am-4am for on-licences
* Empowering local authorities to override these trading hour restrictions, though extremes of a 24/7 free-for-all or a totally 'dry' policy would fall foul of the test for reasonableness test
* Local communities will be able to decide on the concentration, location and hours of alcohol outlets, including one-way door policies. Granting licences will have to consider whether "the good order of the area would be lessened".
* Ready To Drink beverages will be restricted so they cannot hold more than 1.5 standard drinks or have more than 5 per cent alcohol content
* Making it criminal offence to provide a minor (under 18) with alcohol without a parents' or guardians' consent, and if consent is given, the alcohol must be supplied in a responsible manner
* Dairies and convenience stores will have to be considered "grocery stores" before being eligible to be an off-licence
* Cracking down on those who drink in carparks, school grounds and other private places by including them in the definition of a 'public place'.
* Restrictions on alcohol promotions apply to all businesses
* Investigating a minimum price regime
Clearly, there's a huge amount of information to be absorbed. But DPF, ever the Lord of the Blog has been sitting in the lock-up at Parliament blogging away merrily and publishing at the appointed hour - he opines:
Have been in the lockup for the Government’s response to the Law Commission report on alcohol. It is one of the largest cabinet papers on record, with a huge 202 recommendations. The Minister has obviously spent a lot of time going through the issues.
The zealots have already slammed the report because the Government did not implement everything the Law Commission recommended. I say thank God for that. The previous Labour Government commissioned that report, from a body headed up by a former Labour Prime Minister. Why on earth a National Government would be expected to do everything they say, I don’t know.
We have elections in this country to decide policies, and I am glad the Government has not gone down the total nanny state path. In some areas they have gone done that path, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
If Labour want to campaign at the next election to ban Tui billboards, outlaw alcohol sponsorship of sports, hike the alcohol excise tax by 50%, make it a crime for a 19 year old to have a glass of wine with his/her parents in a restaurant and force bars to have a one way policy at 2 am, then that would make my day. The alcohol zealots should encourage Labour to promise that, and then the people can decide at the election.
DPF has also given a point-by-point analysis of the government's proposals which should be mandatory reading this afternoon for anyone interested in this important socio-political issue. He is of the opinion that Simon Power has done a pretty good job with the proposed reforms, and we're inclined to agree. In many ways the government is on a hiding to nothing with this issue.
Doubtless there will be much more written and spoken about these proposed reforms, and the devil, as always, will be in the detail. At first glance, the split purchasing age has some appeal, although DPF suggests that it is deeply flawed. The reduction in alcohol-by-volume in RTD's is a very welcome proposal in our opinion, as is the $2000 fine for supplying alcohol to under-18's without parental consent; that is a big step in the right ditrection as far as we are concerned.
Please feel free to share your thoughts.