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'Hollow' Alcohol Reform Bill criticised by opponents

Published: 5:45AM Wednesday December 12, 2012 Source: ONE News

Opponents are warning the controversial Alcohol Reform Bill will do little to impact New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture after the law passed into law last night.

The Bill passed its final hurdle in Parliament last night, paving the way for communities and local councils to have a greater say about the availability of alcohol.

The reforms include giving communities and councils a greater say on liquor store locations, setting maximum opening hours for licensed premises, and restricting the types of stores allowed to sell liquor.

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But the Bill is facing scrutiny by critics who say the reforms are weak and fail to address the problem of binge drinking.

"It's called the Alcohol Reform Bill but it has no reforms in it. It's a cynical, hollow bill that is not going to do anything about the heavy drinking culture," said Professor Doug Sellman.

The Bill is expected to be rolled out over the next year. Labour proposed an amendment to the bill that would see the waiting time for councils cut down to seven months. But it does not have enough support from other parties to succeed.

"Communities are really crying out to be able to control the location, the number and the opening hours of liquor outlets. And it's a bureaucratic nonsense to make them wait 16 months before they get those powers," Labour MP for Te Atatu, Phil Twyford said earlier.

But Justice Minister Judith Collins says some councils are not ready for the changes.

"I think Phil Twyford knows fully well that lots of the little councils around the country have said that they won't be ready in time if we bring the time up to what he wanted," Collins said.