More than 20 years have passed since the framework for the sale of liquor laws was established by the 1986 Working Party on Liquor. The resulting Sale of Liquor Act 1989 has been amended many times over the years, and its overall coherence has been undermined. The Commission engaged in a comprehensive review to examine and evaluate the current laws and policies relating to the sale, supply and consumption of liquor in New Zealand. On 27 April 2010 The Commission published its final report on the review of the regulatory framework for the sale and supply of liquor, entitled 'Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing the Harm' (NZLC R114, Wellington 2010). The report contains 153 recommendations to Government, which are currently under consideration.
Terms of reference
1. To examine and evaluate the current laws and policies relating to the sale, supply and consumption of liquor in New Zealand.
2. To consider and formulate for the consideration of Government and Parliament a revised policy framework covering the principles that should regulate the sale, supply and consumption of liquor in New Zealand having regard to present and future social conditions and needs.
3. To deal explicitly with a number of issues, including:
• The proliferation of specific outlets and the effect this has on consumption;
• How the licensing system should be structured and who should be responsible for which aspects of licensing decisions;
• Revising the licence renewal and fee framework to consider whether risk can be more appropriately managed and to ensure that the funding of the licensing and enforcement regime is adequate;
• To ensure that unnecessary and disproportionate compliance costs are not imposed by the licensing system;
• The age at which liquor can be purchased;
• The responsibility of parents for supervising young members of their family who drink;
• The influence of excise tax on alcohol and how pricing policies can minimise harm from alcohol consumption;
• Advertising of liquor and whether there should be restrictions on discounting alcohol or advertising discounts;
• The relationship between the Sale of Liquor Act 1989, the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2001;
• The relationship between the Sale of Liquor Act 1989,and the liquor related offences in the Summary Offences Act 1981;
• The application of competition law to the sale of liquor;
• The need to ensure the appropriate balance between harm and consumer benefit;
• The health effects of alcohol use and the ways to ameliorate these adverse effects;
• The effects of alcohol use on the level of offending in the community and consideration of measures to minimise such offending; and
• enforcement issues in relation to liquor, including penalties, bans, measures to control alcohol related disorder and to deal with intoxicated people, and methods for preventing the use of fake proof-of-age identification.
4. To prepare an issues paper for publication and take submissions on it, and to engage in extensive public consultation.
5. To prepare a final report, including the proposed new policy framework and draft legislation, so that people can judge accurately the precise effects of what is proposed.
Alcohol In Our Lives (NZLC IP15, 2009)
The Commission's Issues Paper, Alcohol in Our Lives (NZLC IP15, 2009) reviews the regulatory framework relating to the sale and supply of liquor.
During the public consultation process on Alcohol in Our Lives: An Issues Paper on the Reform of New Zealand's Liquor Laws, we received submissions from many organisations and indivduals. The organisations that made a submission to the Commission are listed in the paper Alcohol in Our Lives - Public Consultation Process.
A report prepared by independent consultants, Litmus, analysed the 2,939 submissions received on our Issues Paper across seven key policy areas:
- opening hours
- purchase/drinking age
- tax and price
- advertising, and
- drinking in a public place.
It also contains an in-depth analysis of different stakeholder positions across the full range of policy options. The policies analysed in this report are those that were put forward as provisional options for public debate in the Commission’s Issues Paper published in July 2009.
Review of Regulatory Framework for the Sale and Supply of Liquor: Part 1: Alcohol Legislation and the Conscience Vote (NZLC R106, 2009)
The Law Commission's Report, Review of Regulatory Framework for the Sale and Supply of Liquor: Part 1: Alcohol Legislation and the Conscience Vote (NZLC R106, 2009) examines the use of the conscience vote in the New Zealand House of Representatives. It explains how conscience voting differs from standard party-based voting. The report then looks at why conscience voting has historically been so popular for Bills dealing with the sale and supply of alcohol. The report suggests that it is preferable that future alcohol Bills be subject to standard party-based voting given the risks conscience voting poses to the clarity and effectiveness of the laws passed by Parliament.
Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing the Harm (NZLC R114, 2010)
The Commission's Report, Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm (NZLC R114, 2010) contains 153 recommendations to Government and is divided into four parts. Part 1 summarises the public consultation findings and outlines the case for legal reform; Part 2 sets out the detailed framework for a new licensing system; Part 3 deals with alcohol taxation and pricing and the promotion of alcohol and Part 4 addresses alcohol offences, education and treatment. The 32 page extracted Summary of the full report can be downloaded separately. A limited number of hardcopies are available for purchase. The Report was tabled in Parliament on 27 April 2010.
No formal Government response was received. There is no requirement for the Government to present a formal response to a Commission report where it has accepted the Commission’s recommendations. (See Official Government response process | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).)
However, a Cabinet paper with the Minister of Justice's recommended response to the Commission's to Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing the Harm (NZLC R114, 2010) is available on the Beehive website.
Recommendations from R106 and R114 were implemented in the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Act 2012, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and the Summary Offences (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Act 2012.