Plans to fast-track liquor licences for the Rugby World Cup are "risky and unwise" because of New zealand's binge drinking culture, and show a "callous disregard" for public health and safety in favour of the alcohol industry, the Government was told yesterday.

The Government administration select committee yesterday heard submissions on the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill which would make it easier to grant urgent approvals for temporary activities and facilities during the tournament.

The chief executive of the Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac), Gerard Vaughn, said the bill's provisions on liquor licensing paid scant regard to controlling the sale of alcohol and reducing harm from drinking.

Mr Vaughn said that unlike the Sale of Liquor Act, the section of the bill dealing with liquor licensing did not expressly control liquor sales or contribute to the reduction of harm.

While the bill would allow temporary licences subject to terms and conditions that "ensure that public health and safety are protected as far as is reasonably practicable" during the event, that was a weaker protection than under the act.

The council believed it was "risky and unwise" to introduce a licensing system "that does not support the intent of the underlying legislation".

National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman, told the committee the bill would make alcohol a lot more accessible and lead to increased liquor marketing and advertising.

"Increasing the number of outlets will increase competition and likely result in cheaper alcohol prices."

Dr Sellman said the Law Commission review on alcohol use found New Zealand had a problem with excessive drinking, caused partly by "unbridled commercialism of alcohol".

"It is therefore a tragic irony that the first formal alcohol response of the Government following the report is to introduce legislation that will liberalise alcohol even further and therefore enhance the country's alcohol-related problems."

The committee earlier heard from Fiona Anderson, an emergency responder for St John Ambulance who also runs the the Piha Domain camping ground.

Ms Anderson warned of "inevitable carnage" as temporary liquor licences and facilities resulted in an increase in drunkenness placing already stretched emergency services under more strain.

Mr Vaughn said that with 260 working days to go until the Rugby World Cup, there was ample time for special licence applications.

The council was concerned an authority set up to fast-track liquor licence applications would lack experience in dealing with binge drinking culture.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said the legislation made almost no difference to the rules on buying alcohol - it just sped up the licence process.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING ANDREW KOUBARIDIS AND NZPA