PROHIBITION – New Zealand 2020 (it only took 100 years)

WARNING: Random Rant Ahead.

WOW! I just can’t keep up with the walls closing in on alcohol in New Zealand. On every front alcohol is being attacked. Just small little bites, which by themselves the public seem to be accepting or totally unaware of. If you look at the big picture though things are changing fast, and how long before those in control achieve prohibition in New Zealand.

Prohibition 1920’s read this link.

Prohibition 2020’s the story starts here.

What’s happening out there that you should probably be thinking about:

  • Single Bottle Ban – no more single bottle sales (aimed at Craft Beer?) BOOO!
  • Police patrolling in pubs, potentially with video cameras
  • Seven’s and potentially other public events with alcohol bans
  • No more beer festivals?
  • Increased cost for a license
  • Increasing health warnings on labels

Tonight I was given the heads up about the “single bottle ban” which is part of the the impending Auckland Local Alcohol Policy Not sure whats in it but the preferred position paper gives you a rough idea.  

copsThursday 24th April – I had lunch at Vultures, everyone in the place was having lunch. Two police offices walked in, eye balled everyone, one looked at the license on the wall as the other one walked through including downstairs. They then slowly walked outside the door, and spent some time out there. Jarred went out and had a discussion with them. (I should follow-up to see what it was all about) It was done in a slightly intimidating way, for those in the bar.

That evening we had the Fresh Hop beer release event at the Lumsden. Late in the evening two police offices walked in, eye balled every one and looked at the license on the wall and then hung out in the garden bar for a while. Then walked back through the bar. Then they stood outside the door on Khyber Pass, until the manager went out. Again I don’t have the full story and should follow-up. Exactly the same as Vultures on the same day. Was this specifically aimed at Craft Beer Bars?

This is the first time I have ever experienced police walking through a bar in Auckland. And what was it about that day that I experienced it twice.

I understand that police are now allowed to video tap people that they think are intoxicated?

Seven’s liquor ban. I have a whole blog post drafted on this with statistics. Bottom line, this event brings in $18 million to the local Wellington economy, alcohol sales are down 50% over the last 5 years at the stadium. Everyone has a good time. There is a very small percentage of arrests and injuries, which must happen on an average Friday and Saturday night. Will an alcohol ban at the stadium reduce the harm from alcohol in the city to zero? What is the cost of this to the economy? Is it worth it?

Should alcohol be banned at major sporting events?

Should the police/liquor licensing be allowed to video tap at these public events to record all serving areas and people purchasing alcohol? Are there signs displayed any where notifying the public they are being filmed? What is happening to this footage? Being stored? For how long?

As for alcohol advertising at sporting events check out this post – Let’s make everything like the Rugby Sevens?

Beer Festivals – what are the chances the New Zealand Beer Festival will ever happen again? Seemed like it was luck to even happen this year, and wasn’t much fun with the security and policing. Why was this Auckland Beer Festival under the gun and the Christchurch Beer Festival was such a breeze? One law, multiple interpretations, and levels of enforcement.

Increased costs of holding a license to sell alcohol. Read this article New fees a big cost for some premises

Liquor Licensing Committee chair John Leggett said the new fee system was a result of the passing of the new acts, which was aimed at reducing harm from alcohol.

“As I understand it, one of the driving forces behind the change is the reference to the on and off-licences themselves . . . making sure the industry paid for the cost rather than the ratepayers.”

“As I understand it” doesn’t really sound like he fully understands what he is talking about.

How much were the ratepayers paying before for the cost of a liquor license?

How did they come up with how much each risk category pays?

For a large event with more than 400 people it would now cost $575, a medium event with between 100 and 400 people would cost $207 and a small event with less than 100 people would cost $63.25.

Who came up with these fees for events that need a special license?

Seems like revenue gathering , and the numbers just seem random, and it isn’t clear that they are tied to any costs that ratepayers had previously been covering. Read the article and try to come up with your own conclusion.

Dont Drink if PregnantNew Labelling – changes to our labels. Warnings are now going to be required on beer labels. At the cost to the brewer. The sucky thing is that small brewers have so many different beers and small label runs, and will have a bigger burden to get changes made. Extra cost to make sure pregnant women know they shouldn’t be drinking craft beer.

Did you know there are 1000 liquor ban areas in Auckland?

My vision of the future for Alcohol in New Zealand 2020

  • Every purchase of alcohol you make will be on video. The supermarket, bottle shops, sporting events, bars, restaurants and beer festivals. (actually it already is recorded, on video and on EFTPOS and credit card transactions)

  • Facial Recognition – each purchase will be recorded, the video will have facial recognition software run over it. A database of where you purchased and your financial transaction cross referenced.

  • Standard Drinks. Based on your purchases there will be a record of how many standard drinks you purchase in a week. You will be flagged and categorised in to risk groups. If you are purchasing (therefore drinking) more than recommended guidelines then there will be ramifications. Potentially your insurance company could be informed and your premiums go up, your doctor notified and on your next visit you could be talked to about your potential problem. Or even your employer or spouse?

How far could this all go before they just implement prohibition without anyone pushing back and saying hey that’s not cool. The above technology is available now, and this could already be happening.

Chipping away slowly slowly…

Please tell me I am wrong.

Discussion on Facebook 

UPDATE – 8 May 14
> Looks like the Council have defined it better – so might not be an issue for ‘craft’ after all (or should that be ’boutique’ and ‘handcrafted’)
> ‘Mainstream’ beer isn’t generally sold in single bottles anyway, so shouldn’t be affected.
> Still issues around profiling based on product type rather than the behaviour they are trying to address. Plus puts all the onus on the retailer not the person buying the product…

UPDATE – 10 May 14
I might have been a bit optimistic on the 2020 date, especially after reading

“Nearly 10,000 police computers were running Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system when mainstream support was axed last month, Police Minister Anne Tolley has confirmed.” 

14 thoughts on “PROHIBITION – New Zealand 2020 (it only took 100 years)”

  1. Luke, I generally agree with you, although I have absolutely no sympathy for the sevens. It’s New Zealand’s annual convention of alcohol abuse and arseholery, made that way by people like the Wellington City Council who deluded themselves that you could encourage New Zealanders to dress up and be exhibitionists without alcohol playing a part. The supposed economic gains are questionable since the behaviour of the crowds in the CBD on those days (many of whom aren’t attending the event) shut down a lot of economic activity.

    Speaking of the Wellington City Council, we had a small victory here as a result of participating in the process of creating the local alcohol policy. There was a ridiculous suggestion that a small confined portion of the CBD should be allowed much later opening hours. I gather Police thought it would make their job easier. We pointed out that most of Wellington’s interesting new bars (including almost all those focusing on quality beer) were opening outside this proposed ghetto and the idea would be a disaster for the evolution of the city’s nightlife. Believe it or not the council listened and modified the policy accordingly.

    So if the local alcohol policy in Auckland is still in draft, then anyone concerned should get involved. This proposed ban on single bottle sales is so flawed I’d really like to see it taken apart. The fact that the proposal singles out RTDs betrays that its authors make value judgements about the people drinking particular beverages. I suggest that it’s elitist and possibly even racist and has no part in public policy. They either ban all single bottle sales, including sales of posh wine and whisky in cute little specialist stores, or none.

    Also, it’s probably too late, but we need to talk about the fact that the new law is based on a false premise – that alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse have been on the rise. The fact is that it has been shown that New Zealand’s alcohol consumption generally falls when alcohol becomes more available and rises when its availability is restricted. The general liberalising of the laws since 1989 had led to less consumption and an improvement in attitude. The Law Commission had access to the research that showed this but chose to ignore it.

  2. Fantastic piece Luke. The ongoing war against adults personal choice is pretty terrifying. Next will be plain packaging and excessive taxation, just like with cigarettes. Imagine all the awesome craft beer labels we’ll miss out on and what will it do to our wine industry?

  3. I really don’t understand the need for new laws. Like you said, Alcohol is already on the decrease, and the attitudes are improving. I’m all for public safety but a line needs to be drawn – I think it was fine where it was and these new laws are pure revenue gathering and a step towards prohibition (if only it didn’t generate so many tax dollars aye)

    1. Hi Dan, you write “attitudes are improving”. Can you expand on that a bit more?

  4. I believe the single bottle issue is mainly aimed at supermarkets who sell damaged boxes of mainstream beers as singles for around $2.

    1. Adam, can you back that up? I’m looking at the Preferred Position Paper and it says: “The LAP would recommend that “single sales” (e.g. single RTDs) be prohibited from off-licences, especially those located within close proximity to liquor ban areas or on-licences.” Looks to me like they’re after people who drink RTDs in the street. Given that people drink in the street (I assume) because they feel they can’t get into bars or can’t afford bar prices, this smacks of the well-off telling the not-so-well off that alcohol is for people who can fill the boot of the family wagon with wine on a Saturday afternoon. Although their motivation is secondary – a minimum purchase size is daft regardless.

      1. I know for certain that for the last 6 or so months local licensing agency’s in all parts of the country have been putting a lot of pressure on supermarkets to stop the practice of selling single units of beer.
        Enough to even suggest if they were to continue that when their licence came up for renewal they would take the selling of single units into account.
        I also know that supermarkets are looking at ways to still sell the the single units but perhaps repacked. But there is all sort of issues in regards to the big breweries…

  5. I just had a look at the additional info that Luke just linked to. Interesting wording about “licensee must not sell single units of maintstream beer, cider or RTDs in less than 445ml packaging. Boutique and handcrafted beer and cider are exempt from this provision.” I’m sure a lot of people will be relieved by this, but I don’t think we should be. Beer drinkers of all people should loathe regulations that make value judgements about drinks. We might have disdain for mainstream beer and RTDs but that shouldn’t stretch to people’s right to buy it. Not to mention the nonsense of a city council determining which beers are mainstream and which are “handcrafted”.

    1. From an email I received…

      “The question for the Council is what is the harm they are trying to address, and is a single serve ban of certain alcoholic beverage types the most effective way to achieve that? If they are trying to address liquor ban breaches, then a far more effective way to target that is to enforce the liquor ban areas and use the powers in the Act to fine the individuals who are breaching the rules. Single serve bans are confusing and trade-restrictive for retailers and consumers, inefficient and likely expensive to enforce, and a mostly importantly, a sledgehammer approach to a very specific confined problem. It is bad law that will do nothing to achieve a change in drinking culture as all the focus is on the retailer and not on the person breaking the rules.

      The focus is completely round the wrong way. Rather than the police worrying about whether the beer is ‘mainstream’ or ‘handcrafted’ and the personal presumptions that go with that, they should spend the energy enforcing liquor ban areas and penalising the individuals who are in breach of those. It is after all supposed to be about HOW we drink, not WHAT we drink.”

      Discretionary condition to be applied to on-licences on a case-by-case basis (page 44, para4.5.2) “shots, shooters, high strength mixed drinks with more than 45mls is spirits/liqueur in one serve, beer with more than 6% ABV, and RTDs with more than 6%ABV must not be sold or supplied at the following times: within the last hour of closing for premises open till 1am or 2am; and within the last 2 hours before closing for premises open after 2am”

      When did wine get such a free pass! They do realise it is higher than 6%ABV don’t they???
      But of course, nobody gets drunk on wine 😉

  6. Alcohol is a nasty brutish drug. Causing all sorts of damage to people and society.That seems to escape so many users and completely escape the alcohol industry. Nothing above says anything at all about prohibition.

    Sorry to do this but… I read “This is the first time I have ever experienced police walking through a bar in Auckland” – I ask. Was that your first visit to an Auckland bar? There is nothing new nor without precedent in police ‘walk throughs’.

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