Community Law Applauds Alcohol Amendment Vote

Community Law Centres o Aotearoa (CLCA) congratulates the Government on passing the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill in Parliament today so that communities will have more say about where and when alcohol is sold.

Community views have been virtually non-existent from alcohol licensing processes under the current law, and less than 0.4% of licence applications were declined in 2022.

“CLCA has been operating a project for five years in several Community Law Centres to give free legal advice to communities wanting to object to alcohol licences,” says CEO Sue Moroney. “It provides some balance into these processes where the applicant often has legal advice but those opposing the licence do not.”

“We have seen how hard it is for people to participate and have their say in alcohol licensing – extending deadlines for objections out to 25 working days, removing standing limitations and improving current procedures will be a great step forward in improving community participation” says Sue.

“Alcohol consumption is one of the main drivers of crime and we applaud the Government for making tangible steps to address this.”

New research undertaken by CLCA shows that just 4.35% of on-licence and off-licence applications had any community participation in 2022, and only 19 of the 5,197 applications made were declined – one of those was then approved after minor amendments to the application.

“CLCA’s research highlighted how our most at-risk communities are more likely to have an excessive number of alcohol outlets, and when licence applications in those communities are made, they are unlikely to receive any objections or opposition by Police, Health or Council Inspectors.” says Sue, “It is particularly concerning because some of those communities were also devastated by the storms and flooding earlier this year, and therefore don’t have the capacity to engage in licensing procedures while they try to recover.”

CLCA supported the Bill removing standing limitations, LAP appeals and unnecessary formality, but says further reform is needed to properly ensure community participation.

“We continue to be concerned about failings in the reporting of licences. Last year 1,197 off-licences were operating but not being recorded by ARLA. We want to see changes to ensure Councils and ARLA are held to account in maintaining and reporting accurate licensing figures and conditions.” says Sue, “The Act should insist LAPs must be given effect to and require partnership and participation of Māori throughout all aspects of the Act and licensing processes. This is fundamental, given the disproportionate rates of alcohol related-harm suffered.” says Sue.

“We are pleased to see the Bill being passed before the election and look forward to its enactment”

Media contacts:
Sue Moroney, CEO Community Law Centres o Aotearoa Ph 027 422-731;

Jessica Durham, National Coordinator Alcohol Harm Reduction Demonstration Project Ph 027 294 8441;

Background: Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice and criminal law. As well as around 200 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.


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