Hapori will have a greater say about how alcohol is sold within their communities, as the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Bill passes its third reading. Māori Public Health experts at Hāpai Te Hauora acknowledge the passing of this legislation.
But, it falls short of the comprehensive, system-wide change needed to ensure whānau and hapori are protected from alcohol harm.
"The passing of this legislation represents a step in the right direction, but it is clear that the government has chosen a path that feels like the easy way out. The comprehensive, system-wide reforms needed to protect whānau and hapori from alcohol harm should have encompassed more thorough considerations. By not including measures to address issues like the pervasion of alcohol advertising in sports arenas and sports sponsorship, the government may have missed a vital opportunity to create a stronger public health response to alcohol-related harm in Aotearoa," says Jason Alexander, Hāpai Te Hauora Interim CEO.
This bill will usher in several changes including:
- Allowing any person or group to object to a license application, with a narrow exception for trade competitors.
- Extending the timeframe for objecting, to give people more time to prepare evidence.
- Removing the ability for parties to appeal provisional local alcohol policies.
- Removing the ability to cross-examine at alcohol licensing hearings.
Tara Dymus, General Manager of Māori Public Health, says that while the intention of the bill is to ensure hapori working to reduce alcohol harm within their neighborhoods and wider communities aren’t legally disadvantaged when participating in the system, she is cautious about how these changes will play out in practice.
"The legislation is only as good as the system’s ability to regulate and enforce it. It’s not only the system that needs to change, but key players within it; they need to get comfortable with being called out," says Dymus.
On a lighter note, Dymus says wins like this are a testament to the persistence of whānau, hapori, and sector partners in fighting the battle against alcohol and the associated harm.
"The passage of this bill is a testament to the relentless advocacy of our communities. It's a step forward, but the real political challenge lies ahead. We expect, and will hold, the government accountable to take bolder actions to stem the tide of alcohol harm, particularly within our most vulnerable communities," says Dymus.