Now is the time for more regulation of alcohol, one of the most harmful drugs in the country, said Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick.
It comes as Swarbrick’s Alcohol Sales and Supply Amendment Bill (Minimization of Harm) Bill was withdrawn from the MPs’ ballot on Thursday. This means that it will be presented to Parliament for debate.
The proposed legislation would see a ban on alcohol sponsorship and advertising in live or broadcast sports and sports venues. It would also remove the special appeals process for local liquor policies.
Before the bill was withdrawn from the ballot, the MP for Auckland Central had garnered support from councilors in Auckland Council, Hamilton City Council, Whanganui District Council and Christchurch City Council.
Swarbrick, Green Party spokesman for drug reform, said Thursday that MPs “has dragged on to act” while councils representing more than half of the country’s population “have shown the necessary leadership and have approved the bill”.
She said she had tried to get other parties interested in the bill over the past year and had sent “several letters” only for it to “fall on deaf ears”.
“Now, by the sheer luck of the cookie jar, Parliament has no more excuses and the Bill will be read a first time.”
The bill will need to pass three readings in Parliament to become law.
“I’m really confident we’ll have the numbers to get this through first reading,” Swarbrick said.
The government was already reviewing the rules around alcohol sales under former justice minister Kris Faafoi.
But Swarbrick told 1News in April his bill was needed because “critics don’t guarantee action.” She repeated the comment on Thursday.
She said in April that scrapping the special appeals process was about putting in place “sense regulations that empower communities in Aotearoa to govern where liquor outlets pop up.” Councils across the country that have tried to introduce the policies have sometimes found themselves in costly legal battles against liquor stores and supermarkets who argue it’s unreasonable.
Swarbrick added that while some sports teams have decided on their own to reject liquor company money, sweeping legislation is needed to bring about change across the board.
To help sports teams move away from alcohol sponsorship, which was valued in New Zealand in 2015 at $21.3 million, she suggested the government could give teams money or introduce a small tax on alcoholic beverages.
It follows recommendations made by a Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014 and other research on children’s high exposure to alcohol marketing, including through sports sponsorship. The researchers noted that the results were concerning because there is evidence that they are associated with alcohol consumption among young people.
Industry group NZ Alcohol Beverages Council said in April that the Bill’s removal of liquor companies’ right of appeal “must be viewed with extreme caution”.
Executive Director Bridget MacDonald said the industry was already “heavily regulated” when it came to alcohol sponsorship and advertising.
“Instead of restricting the right of legitimate businesses to promote their products in a legal and socially responsible way, we would be better served by accelerating the shifts we are already seeing toward moderate and responsible drinking.”
Swarbrick told Q+A in May 2021 that the bill would not stop judicial appeal processes – only the built-in special appeal process that kicked in whenever there was an attempt to pass policies. alcohol localities.
She also said at the time that the bill would not automatically ban or introduce barriers to access to alcohol.
“When we talk about ending sponsorship and advertising, that doesn’t change people’s access to the substance – which we know is also extremely harmful – what we’re talking about is ending its normalization and glamorization.”
The Alcohol Sale and Supply (Minimization of Harm) Amendment Bill had been on the MPs’ ballot since July last year.
Bills may be proposed by any deputy who is not a minister. To be considered by Parliament, it must come out of a cookie jar or gain the support of 61 non-executive MPs.