New Zealand: Auckland’s local alcohol policy set for drawn-out debate
By Josh Fagan
August 1, 2016
long-running dispute over Auckland’s controversial local alcohol policy looks set to drag on until next year.
The policy, which sets the rules on when and where bars and off-licences can open in the city, has been hotly debated and appealed by eight different groups, including the police, who want earlier closing times for pubs and nightclubs.
The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority said on Monday it aimed to hear the appeals against the policy in December but that it could possibly be pushed back to February 2017.
The pre-hearing conference, run by authority chair Judge Kevin Kelly, looked at the logistical difficulties of bringing in evidence from a wide variety of different parties.
As well as police, those appealing Auckland Council’s policy include: Progressive Enterprises (Countdown), Foodstuffs (New World and Pak ‘n Save), Super Liquor holdings, Medical Officer of Health, Salutation Hotels Limited, Takapuna Central Residents Group and Redwood Corporation Limited.
Patrick MacNamara, representing Auckland Council, said its preference was to get the policy hearings held as early as possible.
He said last week’s release of the Unitary Plan had paved the way for “greater certainty” on some lingering issues related to the local alcohol policy, and he said the council wanted the policy confirmed by the end of the year.
“The council has sought measures to minimise alcohol related harm and delays are of a concern for the council.”
Kelly said late January or early February was “probably more realistic”.
Auckland Council adopted its provisional policy in May 2015, which settled on 4am closing times in the CBD and a two-year freeze on new off-licences.
More than 2600 submissions were considered amid months of deliberations.
The interim policy determines where new alcohol licences are allowed, how many new alcohol licences are allowed, when bars, restaurants and nightclubs can open and when bottle shops and supermarkets can sell alcohol.