Wellington City Council have voted to make major changes to the City’s alcohol laws.
One of the more ridiculous measures would see maximum trading hours for off-licences from 7am to 9pm apply across the city. They also approved splitting the City up into different “precincts” with different closing times for bars.
Council Wowsers like Stephanie Cook, Iona Pannett (this is the closest she’ll ever get to banning alcohol) and Ray Ahipene-Mercer believe it will force “pre-loaders” (read: youth) to plan their drinking more carefully. While others see it more logically:
Councillor Justin Lester says the issue of pre-loading was “overcooked” and young people were merely making a “rational economic choice” when buying alcohol.
“I have $15 to spend. If I buy 12 beers at the supermarket it costs me $12, if I go to a bar I can buy one drink for $10.”
Mr Lester does not believe changing the opening hours would not make a difference.
“I think if we want to change a binge drinking culture we need to look at it [as a society].
“Changing drinking hours I don’t think will make a difference, it assumes kids can’t make good decisions by themselves,” he says.
Exactly. All this will do is see people buying more drinks earlier and shifting the problem by pushing drunk people into the City earlier. And if you look at some of the statistics from those blamed for enabling “pre-loading”, there isn’t much evidence to support the Council Wowsers:
Only 1.7% of purchases in Countdown supermarkets were alcohol only and the average age of their customers was 46.
The alcohol-only sales figure had come down considerably from 2.05 percent in 2009.
Many of those buying alcohol from the New World supermarkets were 30 or older. Wine sales to people between 18 and 30 were not in “abundant numbers”.
It’s obvious there are issues with alcohol in Wellington, but just as Newtown’s liquor ban fixed many problems in their community by pushing them elsewhere, restricting purchasing times isn’t going to do much to fix the current situation.
You have to wonder if it’s just Council Wowsers trying to make themselves look tough on the issue and more electable to a conservative audience in an election year.
Consultation will open 2 July and submissions will close 2 August, with Council most likely to make a final decision in September.