Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Minister accused of booze deal

Photo / Thinkstock.
Photo / Thinkstock.

Labour is accusing National of doing a backroom deal with supermarket giants after a new store apparently flouted proposed law changes by placing alcohol at its front door.

Alcohol reforms due to return to Parliament for their final stages this month would prevent supermarkets from putting beer and wine in places where it could not be avoided by customers.

Labour associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said he was surprised to see alcohol at the front entrance of a Countdown supermarket in Palmerston North which opened on Wednesday.

"I queried that ... because obviously the Alcohol Reform Bill as it's drafted at the moment would make that illegal. It seemed an unusual thing to do when the law change is so imminent."

Mr Lees-Galloway said the managing director told him the supermarket expected this placement to be permitted once Justice Minister Judith Collins' supplementary order paper (SOP) on the bill was passed.

"He was convinced that there wouldn't be any need for him to move it once the legislation had been passed with the minister's SOP."

Ms Collins said the accusation that she had made an arrangement with the industry was "silly". She said her SOP was still being drafted and she was keen to make sure alcohol was in discreet, defined areas in supermarkets. She admitted that this couldbe difficult to enforce in smaller supermarkets.

The amendment to place alcohol in a more discreet part of supermarkets was not in the original bill, but was added by a select committee.

The Opposition has argued that the alcohol reforms would be toothless if they did not tackle the availability and promotion of alcohol. Isaac Davison

- NZ Herald

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