Auckland diocese’s Commission for Justice and Peace has criticised provisions of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 that have been used to delay the introduction of a new local alcohol policy in Auckland.

In a submission to Parliament’s Governance and Administration Select Committee on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Renewal of Licences) Amendment Bill (No 2), the commission stated that: “ . . . [T]he liberal default settings in the 2012 Act have played into the hands of well-heeled liquor industry advocates more concerned with profit than with community welfare.”

“They have used the objection procedures of the Act to delay the introduction of a local alcohol policy in Auckland for six years resulting in bonanza profits and immense harm to so many Auckland communities.”

The amendment bill provides that where a local alcohol policy is in place under the provisions of the 2012 Act, any renewal of a licence under the Act must not be inconsistent with the provisions of that local alcohol policy. The justice and peace commission referred to an oral submission it had made to the Auckland Council’s Local Alcohol Policy hearing in 2014, in which it [the commission] called for the council’s “preferred position” at the time to be strengthened in several areas.

“Subsequent to our submission Auckland Council make a number of welcome amendments to its provisional Local Alcohol Policy including off-licences having 9am-9pm opening hours,” the submission to the select committee stated.

“The policy was however appealed to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licencing Authority which [did] not report back until July 2017 and in particular amended off-licence opening hours to 7am to 10pm, which is still to be implemented.

“In the intervening years the default closing time in the Act of 11pm operated to the consternation of community groups such as ours witnessing the destructive influence on so many local communities.”

Therefore, although the justice and peace commission expressed its support for the intent of the amendments the new bill proposes, “we believe that a review needs to be undertaken of sections of the original Act that relate to the procedures used to establish Local Alcohol Policies and the default opening and closing hours while a Local Alcohol Policy is established”.

“Without this review and resulting legislative change we believe this Act will never reach its intended potential.”

“Unfortunately the tool provided by Parliament through the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act is so blunt it has been unusable for the past six years,” the submission added.

“It is time parliamentarians sharpened up and gave communities the power to control this corrosive influence in our midst.”