A group of West Aucklanders have launched an online petition to challenge the alcohol monopoly that prevents local residents buying wine or beer at supermarkets.
West Auckland Licensing Trust Action Group (WALTAG) spokesman Nick Smale said the Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts had held a monopoly over hotels, taverns and bottle stores in West Auckland since the 1970s. Residents were missing out due to the lack of competition in the area.
"The trusts have not kept up with the changing tastes of West Aucklanders and are not equipped to meet the needs of a modern and increasingly cosmopolitan city.
"There's a distinct lack of local options for entertainment all over West Auckland. Many of us want to support local businesses, including bars but we don't have the venues – or many choices. People end up traveling into the city or elsewhere to spend their money."
Smale said it had been 15 years since residents last voted, and he believed a referendum was needed ahead of the next local body elections.
"We need 15 per cent of voters in the Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts areas to sign the petition – that's about 28,000 people. If we can achieve this it will force a referendum and allow West Aucklanders to have their say."
Smale said the group questioned the transparency of the trusts and whether profit from alcohol sales were being distributed fairly back into the community.
The trusts' websites says they aim to put the responsible sale of alcohol in the hands of the community, which in turn own the trusts.
"The Trusts is a community owned organisation that runs industry leading liquor retail stores and modern hospitality venues in West Auckland. We help West Auckland grow by returning our profits to the community," the website says.
"Our profits go back to the community in the form of grants, sponsorships and donations."
According to the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, West Auckland has the lowest incidence of alcohol-related crashes in Auckland Council urban zone areas, the trusts' website said. Drink-driving prosecutions were also lower in the region compared to others.
It also quoted University of Otago's Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit's Tim Chambers as saying: "The sale of alcohol through retail stores controlled by a licensing trust, is an effective model for preventing childhood exposure to alcohol marketing."
To sign the online petition to force a referendum people can visit https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4500493/West-Auckland-Trusts-Action-Group-Petition-2018
WALTAG will also have a traditional paper petition available for people to sign later in August.
To enrol to vote or to check enrolment details are up to date, visit https://www.elections.org.nz/voters/enrol-check-or-update-now