Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Collins rejects liquor pleas

Labour MPs propose amendments to keep alcohol outlets away from schools

Two South Auckland MPs want only supermarkets to sell alcohol within 1km of schools in their area. Photo / Dean Purcell
Two South Auckland MPs want only supermarkets to sell alcohol within 1km of schools in their area. Photo / Dean Purcell

South Auckland MPs have pleaded with their fellow South Aucklander - Justice Minister Judith Collins - to put aside politics on alcohol reform and adopt their amendments to keep liquor outlets away from schools.

Speaking in the debate on the Alcohol Reform Bill, Su'a William Sio and Louisa Wall both said alcohol was an issue that had plagued their South Auckland communities for years and called for liquor outlets to be banned near schools.

Ms Wall, MP for Manurewa, said there were 494 liquor licences across wider Manukau, including 181 off-licences, and the number of small corner-store liquor shops had prompted protests in the local community.

Her amendment would ban liquor outlets other than supermarkets within 1km of schools - one of several Labour amendments the Government is refusing to support.

"There is no place in the life of a child for alcohol.

"What really concerns me is our children who do walk to school and stop in at the superette on the way to school are confronted with alcohol. Alcohol will become, and has become, a normal part of children's lives."

Ms Wall called on Ms Collins as the MP for another South Auckland electorate, Papakura, to support the amendments, rather than leaving it to local authorities to decide whether to adopt such a policy.

In reply, Ms Collins said decisions such as the placement of liquor outlets were best dealt with by local councils rather than applying universal rules, partly because communities in poor areas would want tougher rules than those in wealthy suburbs such as Remuera.

Ms Collins said it was in poorer areas that people had taken to the streets to protest about liquor outlets.

"It's not the people in the rich areas. They generally don't care."

The Alcohol Reform Bill will give local authorities the option of setting their own liquor licensing rules, including the location and opening hours of licensed premises.

Labour has criticised it for failing to go far enough and its MPs have put up several amendments to the main bill, which is in its committee stages.

Those amendments - and others put up by the Maori Party, Mana Party and the Green Party - are not expected to pass because the Government is refusing to support them.

Limiting liquor outlets
South Auckland MPs' proposed amendments:
* Manurewa MP Louisa Wall: Prohibit liquor outlets other than supermarkets within one kilometre of a school or early childhood centre.
* Mangere MP Su'a William Sio: Require consultation with school boards of trustees and early childhood centres within 3 km of any outlet.

What the Alcohol Reform Bill does
* Licensing authority must consider nearby facilities such as schools and the number of other liquor outlets when deciding on applications.
* Allows local councils to set "local alcohol policies" to govern issues such as number and concentration of liquor outlets and opening hours.

- NZ Herald

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