Changes Coming to Alcohol Laws?

9 August 2022

There are a number of changes potentially coming to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (Act) – the majority of which come from Auckland Central and Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s Amendment Bill, which was drawn from the member’s Ballot on 30 June 2022.

The Amendment Bill, if passed, would:

  • (a) Repeal the entire appeals process against provisional local alcohol policies (LAP);
  • (b) Add additional criteria for decision-makers to consider for the issue of new licences around:
    • (i) The current availability of alcohol in the locality; and
    • (ii) whether issuing a licence would benefit the community and not contribute to alcohol-related harm.
  • (c) Amend the criteria for the renewal of licences to include, among other things:
    • (i) allowing a renewal application to be refused where it is inconsistent with a LAP; and
    • (ii) allowing a District Licensing Committee or the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) to impose conditions on a renewed licence to make the renewal consistent with any applicable LAP.
  • (d) Ban advertising alcohol products during a sports broadcast or at a sporting venue.
  • (e) Ban the alcohol industry from sponsoring a broadcast sporting event, a team or player in a broadcast sporting event, any sports merchandise, uniform or equipment in a broadcast sporting event, or a sporting venue.
  • (f) Create new offences for breaching the new bans on advertising and sponsorship, with associated fines of up to $600,000.

  • Local Alcohol Policies

    LAPs are policies local authorities can adopt which place additional restrictions on the issue and renewal of alcohol licences, and on how licensed premises can carry out business in the given district.

    The process for bringing a LAP into force can take a long time and a lot of work. The Amendment Bill, if passed, would remove the ability of LAP submitters to lodge an appeal. This is a significant change, as local authorities would be able to produce policies much more quickly, without the level of input from the alcohol industry which traditionally arose through the appeals process. We expect local authorities would welcome these changes and take advantage of the streamlined LAP process to impose greater restrictions on the sale of alcohol in their districts.

    Support for Chlöe Swarbrick’s Member’s Bill

    Swarbrick has been approaching local authorities to gather support, and to encourage them to lobby their local MPs to support the Amendment Bill – as of the date of writing, Swarbrick has the support of seven local authorities[1].

    Now that the Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament, licensees and the industry at large are having to wait-and-see whether these changes are made, and how these changes will affect their businesses.

    [1]Auckland Council, Christchurch City Council, Hamilton City Council, Hauraki District Council, Palmerston North City Council, Waipā District Council, and Whanganui District Council.

Simon Middlemiss and Levi Harris are part of our Commercial Disputes & Employment team at Norris Ward McKinnon.