Proposed changes to alcohol legislation could threaten the future of many small license holders, says Hospitality New Zealand.
The select committee considering the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill has ignored pleasure from license holders in its report back to Parliament, says Chief Executive, Julie White.*
“This bill is likely to cause great uncertainty for license holders and could even threaten the very future of their businesses,” says White.
“Allowing District Licensing Committees to take new Local Alcohol Policies (LAP) into account when considering renewals, including giving them the ability to decline license renewals if they are viewed as inconsistent with any new local alcohol policy, is a step way too far.
“We are very disappointed that the voices of long-standing license holders are not reflected in the committee’s report.
“Though we support the intention of the bill, we do not believe it will meaningfully address alcohol-related harm, and it will have an adverse effect on consumer choice.
“Under this bill, if a new LAP imposed license density restrictions or buffer zones then they could be grounds for declining renewals, and that would create immense uncertainty for license holders and the future of their business.
“I believe the committee has not fully understood the ramifications, despite the submissions clearly pointing out these risks.
“Though there are certainly some big businesses that hold liquor licenses, many are small business owners and family-run operations that provide a place for people to connect, in addition to employment opportunities and community benefits.
“Do we really want to see them driven out of business?
“They are an important part of New Zealand’s social fabric, the vast majority are responsible, and they deserve to be heard.
“In light of the other checks and balances removed from the Act as a result of this bill – such as removing the right of appeal against provisional local alcohol policies – there is little control license holders have over retaining a key asset in their business.
“This is another blow to hospitality businesses facing a squeeze on increased costs of goods and labor shortages.
“The safest place to consume alcohol is on premise, and that’s what drove our submissions.
“The Parliament needs to take a further serious look at this and not just rubber-stamp what the select committee has done.”
*Steve Armitage has been elected CEO of HNZ, effective August 2023.