The days of alcohol-sponsored sports events could be numbered after Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's private member's bill was drawn from the ballot today.
The bill aims to abolish appeals on local alcohol policies, returning power to communities to decide how many liquor stores can operate in their area. The second part of the bill will ban alcohol sponsorship of sports and venues and advertising during the broadcasts of live sporting events.
Hāpai Te Hauora chief executive Selah Hart says the stars are aligning after years of discussions and inaction.
"It comes off a very courageous discussion last week with Paddy Gower's show on alcohol. Maybe it's Matariki that has made this thing happen," she told teaomaori.news.
She says health advocates across Aotearoa think alcohol law reform is well overdue.
Stronger local say
"We know it's not fit for purpose anymore, and we need to give opportunities to our communities to have a stronger say on how alcohol is placed within their neighbourhoods."
Swarbrick says it's now time for Parliament to follow suit.
"It's time for Parliament to put its money where its mouth is and begin to more appropriately regulate one of the most harmful drugs we know of."
While the bill has only today been drawn from the famous biscuit tin, Swarbrick has been gathering support across the country, including local councils. Whanganui, Hamilton, Auckland, Christchurch and Waipā councils, representing more than half of the population of Aotearoa, have all voted to support the bill.
"While MPs have dawdled to act, councils representing more than half the population of Aotearoa have shown the necessary leadership and endorsed the bill.
'Listen to constituents'
"Now, by the pure luck of the biscuit tin, Parliament is out of excuses and the bill will be read a first time. I look forward to continuing work with my parliamentary colleagues to get this bill to a select committee."
Hart says it is essential that MPs, particularly those who represent the councils who are in support, listen to their constituents.
"It's going to come down to a conscience vote, and we know that many members of Parliament have interests or could be in some way, shape or form conflicted in making these decisions. But MPs are there as representatives of their constituents and they need to listen to those constituents."
Not all councils are in favour, however. Carterton District Council voted against supporting the bill, citing concerns for the viability of grassroots sport without the support of alcohol-related sponsorship.
Carterton councillor Dale Williams said at the time the way the bill had been presented was "casting the net a bit wide".
New sponsors needed
"I completely understand strengthening the criteria for our licencing committees and particularly removing the appeals process so councils don't get bullied by the big players but ending alcohol sponsorship of broadcast sport, that's a national issue."
Hart says no one wants to see grassroots sports, or community initiatives fall by the wayside and sees now as a great opportunity to find new sponsorship means as the bill passes through parliament.
"There are many community organisations that find ways and means to support themselves that don't rely on those harmful commodities' pool of money."
Hart is also urging the government to create an independent funding resource for community groups who are already opting out of seeking sponsorship from alcohol or gambling sources.