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Sale of Liquor Act Amendments
In 1999 amendments were made to the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.  Following a Review in 1996, a Sale of Liquor Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament in 1998.  The Justice and Law Select Committee heard public submissions and drafted 10 Options which were voted on by MPs in late July. The changes voted for were then incorporated into the Bill which was returned to Parliament for the final vote in August 1999.

In brief, the drinking age was lowered to 18, full trading on Sundays will now be permitted for pubs/taverns and off-licences as well as restaurant style premises, and supermarkets will be about to sell beer as well as wine. A definition of suitable proof of age includes driver's licences. These changes came into effect on 1 December 1999.

Other changes came into efect on 1 April 2000. Unopposed licence applications can now be granted by District Licensing Agencies, and there have been some changes to police and Medical Office of Health reporting processes . A certified manager must be present at all times alcohol is sold, and from a date yet to be announced there will be mandatory raining for managers on on and off licensed premises (with a lesser qualification for managers oflicensed clubs). It is now an offence to breach the conditions of one's licence. Fines for all offences prosecuted under the Act were doubled, and a week's suspension may be awarded instead of or as well as a fine. (The Authority's powers to vary, suspend or cancel a licence will be unaffected by changes to offences which are prosecuted in the district court.)
Some other proposals in the Bill were defeated. The club licence was retained; licence 'dispensations' and full devolution of all licensing decisions to District Licensing Agencies were defeated, as was the requirement to obtain planning consent before applying for a licence. . The proposal that would have permitted alcohol to be sold by any retail business was also defeated.
A number of Supplementary Order Papers, from the Minister of Justice and from MPs, were presented at the third reading of the Bill and voted on. Those passed included increased detail about licensing processes, greater flexibility in the licence conditions that may be set in relation to reducing alcohol abuse, and the addition of specific prohibition against promotions that encourage excess drinking.

The final Sale of Liquor Amendment to the 1989 Act is available from government bookshops and from the Knowledge Basket website along with other legislation. Licensees and others in the licensing field should consider these closely, as well as following emerging legal commentaries and case law. [See the Amendment Bill here. The Liquor Review report is published on-line by the Ministry of Justice.]

Although now bypassed by events, APHRU's response to the original Bill remains available on this website, for those seeking background research information on the issues addressed.  Also available is APHRU submission to the earlier Liquor Review 1996. 

Publication: The Alcohol Scene in New Zealand by Dr Linda Hill (The Globe, Issue 1, 2000, pp.6-7) describes the legislative changes introduced by the Sale of Liquor Amendment Act (1999).

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