First they came …

It looks like 2016 kicked off with a focus on alcohol, and the reduction of how, when, where and how much is available. The follow are some articles of interest, and commentary relating to alcohol and events from the last week or so.

How far are we from what is happening in Sydney? This is a long article but well researched and written. It’s worth the time to read it all, so you are informed and ready for what could possibly happen in New Zealand in the future.

Sydney’s fun police have put out the light of the nightlife. The city’s a global laughing stock

“There’s a whole Orwellian nomenclature that has been made up to deliberately keep the general public in a constant state of confusion that some terror has swept across the city: “king hit”, “coward punch”, “alcopop”, “alcohol-related violence”. Being quite a respectable lot, we’ve all been guilt shamed into thinking that something in the Australian psyche is ugly and that mixed with alcohol we turn into raging brutes, or that by simply having fun somehow we’ve been breaking some great moral code, the 11th commandment: thou shalt not have fun.

But that’s all a load of rubbish and in actual fact, you’ve done nothing wrong at all. In fact you’ve been very well behaved. Sydney ranks more safe than Bordeaux, France, or Lausanne, Switzerland, for crime.”

NSW Police Questions 10 William Street Over a Wine List

“So according to NSW POLICE FORCE our blackboard with what we are pouring by the glass is promoting unsavoury behaviour. SYDNEY WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING.”

Wellington Sevens

But at its peak, it brought in $15 million in economic benefits to Wellington.

“Hospitality NZ Wellington president Jeremy Smith said hotel bookings were strong over the sevens weekend, but spending at the city’s bars was not as great as hoped.”

6 arrests (both days)
58 evicted (day one)
35 treated by Wellington Free Ambulance (day one)
(note crowd was only 42% of previous years sellouts 14,000 Saturday, 15,500 Sunday)

Past statistics for the Wellington Sevens (towards the bottom of the page)

Sevens fans turned away after breath-test

“Our staff conduct an assessment on every patron coming into the venue on under the new Sale and Supply of Liquor Act. It defines intoxication. It lists a number of factors,” Mr Harmon told NZME.

These include slurring and dishevelment and any two of those could see someone turned away.

Breath tests were not used as part of that assessment.

“It was only provided as an option to the patron if they dispute our assessment,” he said.

“It’s only used for resolving disputes. We actually don’t use it to assess intoxication, we look for visible signs of intoxication.

“There’s no specific limit, it’s simply a tool for us to show the patron that our assessment is correct.”


Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said breath tests were only used to confirm whether someone was drunk”

WHAT IS THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF DRUNK IN NEW ZEALAND? Is it the same as the BAC of 0.05 for driving a car? Is it the same as defined in the USA of BAC 0.08?

Auckland Nines

NRL Auckland Nines to follow Wellington Sevens in breath testing fans

“First the Wellington Sevens, now the NRL Auckland Nines. The PC brigade will strike another major sporting event with the Nines set to breath-test punters upon entry.

Those too drunk will be barred from the two-day event, which hosts 16 NRL teams in 31 games on Saturday and Sunday, at Eden Park.”


ODI NZ vs Australia Eden Park

Is this food? Lab grown meat?
Is this food? Lab grown meat?

I went to the first ODI between NZ and Australia at Eden Park. The weather was perfect, game was exciting and company was great. I hadn’t been to watch the cricket for a number of years. Not since you could take a chilly bin with your own food and drinks in it.

OK straight to the point. The food and beverage selection on offer was extremely underwhelming. Plastic cups, I can understand and live with that. The beer though was industrial megaswill, or near beer. Why not have some offering of craft beer or beer with flavour, something worth tasting? I’d guess that easily 10% of the people there would have been craft beer drinkers.

Eden Park could increase attendance by lifting their food and beverage offerings. It’s a turn off to go to the cricket for 8 hours and have to put up with such a poor offerings. How hard would it be to sell some of the stands around the stadium to craft brewers and food truck operators. It would be amazing, how much better of a time would you have?

You pay to see world-class sporting events and get offered the cheapest food and beverages. Such a shame.

Then there was this article below,  I didn’t notice on the day. Then again I drank very little beer. (one observation I did notice was the number of guys that had chosen to drink wine. Guessing a large number it was for the alcohol content, but there must have been some that drank it for the flavour. I know I was seriously contemplating the wine).

Sideswipe: Feb 05: Two cups, one fan

“Funny thing happened at the cricket on Wednesday,” writes Dave. “Halfway through the match the limit of beers you could buy at one time went from four down to two – normal procedure to stop people getting too rowdy as the game goes on. But this time as well as reducing the limit they also switched out the cups to a significantly smaller size [pictured]. You could say this is also a safety measure but not when they keep charging the same price of $8.50. Nice of them to try to keep people safe, but not so sure they should be ramping up their margins because they think people will be too drunk to notice!”


Above are observation of what is currently happening. You need to ask questions about how far things should go to limit and control the public at events, and the responsible control of alcohol at events, and in bars. Food is an important part of drinking alcohol, beyond the joy and pleasure of consuming it. Better offerings are likely to be more inviting for people to want to consume them, Eden Park.  Then again I didn’t see any trouble or people who were showing obvious signs of being intoxicated.

New Zealand Beer Festival has just announced they are back for 2016. Lets hope things are more user friendly for the 2016 event. NZ Beer Festival 2014 Review

This is a little random. Or is it…?

Some links relating to this:

If you made it this far, well done.

Auckland’s Alcohol Problem

There is so much to read these days about Auckland’s alcohol problem, it is hard to get a sense of what really needs to be done. The media doesn’t help the cause. Media are very to quick cut and paste a story which is sensational, and the police seem to have done a good job getting their message across. And they probably have done a very good job convincing the council members on what they have to do.

The group that seems to be being victimised are the hospitality and retail liquor businesses who employ people and give people a safe and controlled environment to enjoy alcohol.

I have to give a hat tip to Matt Heath today who wrote the best article I’ve seen in this debate so far. It is totally worth a read. It represents the majority, not the minority problem fringe.

NZH Wine PourBooze has been doing Kiwis a favour for yonks

Best quote Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.”

“The law should punish people who can’t handle their booze and leave the rest of us alone. Most Kiwis are smart enough to drink when they feel like it and cut back when they have things to do. If you are one of the very few who becomes addicted, then seek medical help. Those who get aggressive and commit crimes should stop drinking or pay the price. Simple.”

On a side note: Another observation I made with Matt’s positive article about alcohol, was the image the NZ Herald chose to use. It was wine being poured into a glass. There has been an observed trend now over a several years, where the media will always use an image of beer or beer bottle when reporting a negative story on alcohol. It would seem that since this story is positive you couldn’t possibly use an image of beer. Seems odd they use beer bottles, when many negative articles written are referring to RTD’s. Would make sense to use an image of an RTD bottle?


Then there is this article which tries to represent both sides of the argument in some way

Auckland’s after-hours showdown

(note the photo on this article is “beer”, there is your hint it is going to be negative in some way towards alcohol)

This article comes across as business owners being on the back foot from the council threatening to reduce their conditions to run their business, ultimately affecting their employees.

“McCaw, whose group owns 11 city nightspots, is even more direct. He is, he says, “quite fired up”.

“I honestly believe the safest place to be after midnight in Auckland City is inside a licensed premise – I am absolutely certain of this fact,” he says. The problem is outside – and therefore is the council and police’s problem.

“I find it incredibly difficult that they are laying some of the responsibility for the unsafeness of the streets at the feet of [publicans]…inside is my responsibility, and goddamn it, I take it seriously because if I don’t, I lose my business.”

Actually, given the ratio of bouncers to cops, bar owners are doing more to guard the late-night streets.”


I have recently experienced the council at work with liquor licensing.  A frustrating experience with the amount of time it took Epic Brewing to get an off license for internet sales at our office. We are talking 7 months, plus three visits from people from the council. These visits raised questions like:

“where is your sprinkler system? you need one if you are going to have more than 19 people in this building” – WTF!? we are applying for online sales, there will be no public visiting, let alone 19 people.

“what are your operating hours going to be? how about we put 7am to 7pm?” WTF!? we are selling beer online, from a website. Shouldn’t the website be available 24/7, it’s the internet?

Why did it have to take 7 month to issue an off license to an internet based business, not open to the public, located in industrial Penrose, with no complaints from the public?

It would seem the people involved didn’t have a very good grasp on what was required.


Is the council capable of, or have people competent enough to represent the community to make an informed, common sense, functional Local Alcohol Policy, without being influenced by the powerful, and politically motivated?

The Council represents the community right? Below are a few articles about the community not being happy with the council’s decision regarding a new liquor license and protesting the fact. Seems like common sense should have prevailed when looking at issuing this license for an outlet across from the school. Listen to the people who vote you into power or you will be removed by the people.

Protesters angry liquor outlet allowed opposite school

In Mangere and Otahuhu there are 106 alcohol licences…

…large support from Auckland residents with 91% of residents wanting no increase in the number of liquor stores.

There will also be a reduction in trading hours and outlets would not be allowed to be within 100 metres of sensitive sites such as schools or churches.

Residents oppose liquor store by school

But 10 days later, the licence was granted by the Auckland District Licensing Committee.

“People making these decisions are not from our community. Enough is enough,” Fowler said.

Booze store location near school ‘devastating’

 their off-licence for wine and beer at the grocery store, close the liquor store between 3pm and 4pm on school days and not sell single RTDs (ready to drink spirit-based drinks).

The closest off-licence liquor store is about 1km away.

Crowd of 200 protest against booze shop

A 200-strong crowd of community members and politicians gathered this morning to protest the Auckland District Licensing Committee’s decision last week to approve the Mangere outlet opposite the Southern Cross Campus school.


The big questions for me “are the people in council who are responsible for the Local Alcohol Policy the right people for the job”? Do they have enough common sense? Do they have enough understanding of the businesses that are involved, and do they actually have any first hand experience of the hospitality/liquor retail industry? Are they making decisions based on statistics presented by influential groups with their own agendas, which don’t necessarily meet all the needs of the whole community, but only their own?

I don’t know what the answers is, but I feel that we are still some way off from getting a result that is going to get the best outcome for the community. It’s a shame the silent majority never speak up or act until things have changed and it’s too late. Changing things back is always harder after the fact.

What do you think – Shape Auckland

Local Alcohol Policy – have your say, the deadline is 16th July.

Does High Priced Beer Equal Lower Consumption?

I saw the following links, and it raised the question for me “does a higher price for beer actually reduce consumption”?

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this infographic is where did the data come from and is it correct for New Zealand (and Australia). The figures below say NZers have the 4th highest spend per capita in the world on beer. But I am sure I have seen our per capita consumption on beer ranked somewhere down near 20th.

This would imply to me that we have very high pricing on beer (due to government excise), even though we aren’t drinking the most in the world. Does the government look at this when taking into account policy for liquor laws in this country?  Is there any set of information or statistics available in this country that a common sense, not political or revenue gathering, decision can be made about alcohol?

World’s cheapest and priciest beers

Nations with the highest per-capita spending on beer

1. Australia, $748
2. Ireland, $688
3. Finland, $566
4. New Zealand, $453
5. Venezuela, $445

Beer Prices Around The World Compared: The Cheapest, Most Expensive And Most Popular Beer Brands

Australians pay the most — $748 annually, thanks to a combination of heavy thirst and heady beer prices.

Price Of Beer




ALCOHOL – The Silent Majority

It has been encouraging to see the other side of the story about alcohol in the media the last day or so. The message has been all doom and gloom from the council and police, and “lets punish the silent majority for the sake of the few idiots out there”.

Pouring Beer OutKiwis not the worst bingers

“The latest Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health by the World Health Organisation has revealed New Zealanders aged 15 and over drank on average 10.9 litres of pure alcohol a head in 2010, up from 9.6l in 2005, and well above the 6.2l global average.”

Global average will include countries where alcohol is not consumed because of religious reasons. Example Muslims don’t drink alcohol, and they make up 23.4% of the world’s population. Therefore saying we are well above the average is just a dumb comparison. Adjust the global average by taking out the 23.4% of the population that doesn’t drink and NZ might actually be below this level.

These included “relentless” alcohol marketing, cheap availability, and a drinking age of 18, Sellman said. “As long as we have about 10 New Zealanders dying every week as a result of drunkenness, we deserve the unhealthy reputation of being a wild-south binge-drinking country.”

How can you have faith in these so-called experts, or believe what they say if it is different from the last time you heard that stat. This is a classic example here. National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman says 10 people a week die of drunkenness (which is about 520 per year). But Dr Geoff Robinson, Wellington Hospital chief medical officer and drug and alcohol specialist had only said a few days before said there are 1000 alcohol related deaths a year in New Zealand. So which number is it? How can you have a debate, or serious discussion to try to find a solution to a problem if the information you are dealing with keeps changing.

Rob Warner: Anti-booze campaign focuses on wrong target

This is a good article with a good angle and shows a group of people who will suffer from the proposed changes to the Local Alcohol Policy (LAP)

“To formulate a correct solution to a problem the correct questions need to be asked. In Auckland’s CBD, these are: why have drunken idiots been allowed to run riot for so long, and why do the Auckland Council’s proposed solutions not address the core issues and instead punish the majority who drink responsibly?”


Why not start with making public drunkenness an offence? The right people will be targeted, and the culture will start to change – one of the key objectives of the legislation, surely.


The police can already write people a ticket for being drunk ($250), so why isn’t this happening?

Police will be able to issue $250 infringement notices to people caught drinking in liquor ban areas – even if they are inside parked cars – and to patrons drunk enough or young enough to be ejected from a bar.


Some facts on the topic of alcohol-related harm in the CBD:

• Since 2001, public disorder offences in the Auckland CBD have declined 60.5 per cent. Assaults have declined 42 per cent. The sky is not falling.

• This decline happened despite a 19 per cent population increase in central Auckland and an Auckland-wide increase of 23.6 per cent from 2001 to 2013.

If there could be an agreed on, set of figures/statistics relating to alcohol, then maybe there could be some agreed on, set of decisions and action points to address the problem areas.

It would be interesting to find out who or what organisation decided on 14 standard drinks as a weekly maximum for a male in New Zealand. What standard drink is that? The world doesn’t even have an agreed standard on what a “standard drink” is.

I have started a page to try to collect the statistics that are quoted in the media to see if there is someway to crack the code, and cut through the propaganda. New Zealand Alcohol Statistics.

The problem is…. Alcohol? Police? Statistics? Media? Fear? The Agenda?

I was sent this link from KiwiBlog – David Farrar

Guess there is some influence in the NZ media. Those with the money and power have a certain message to get across, and the following doesn’t fit the agenda. Keep everyone in a state of fear.

2013-05-26 16.23.56An alcohol report that got little publicity

The World Health Organisation has just released its 2014 report on alcohol and health. It seems to have had almost no publicity here – possibly because it doesn’t support the claims of certain groups that NZ  stats are really bad on a world scale. Some extracts you may not see elsewhere:

  • Far from there being a catastrophic rise in alcohol abuse in New Zealand there has been a real reduction in drinking habits in the last 30 years. There was a sharp increase in total alcohol consumption per capita from 1970 through the early 1980s, then a sharp drop from 1985 through the late 1990s, and a slight upward trend since then. So things are not worse than they have ever been…in fact they are a lot better.
  • The amount consumed per drinker, New Zealand ranks around 96th (13.7 litres of pure alcohol per capita).  This ranks us slightly higher than France (at 12.9 litres) and slightly lower than the UK (at 13.8 litres).  So on average, we are a nation of fairly moderate drinkers.
  • We are constantly told that we have a “binge drinking” culture in New Zealand, but our rates of prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (classified as more than 6 standard drinks on at least one occasion in the past 30 days) is actually very low by global standards.  The prevalence rate of heavy drinking for New Zealand was 5.6%.  This is more than half that of Australia (13.6%), more than a quarter that of Canada (23.1%), and more than a sixth that of the United Kingdom (33.4%). So when you hear the claim we have 800,000 hazardous drinkers, it is quite a gross exaggeration (as the scare mongers here use a different definition).

Of course there are problems caused by alcohol abuse in New Zealand, and these should be mitigated if it can be done in a way where the benefits exceed the costs. But the narrative that NZ has an awful drinking problem, and it is much worse than in the past – is not true.

(David sorry to rip off your whole blog post, but I needed people to read it and they possibly wouldn’t click though)


This article states the following:

New Zealand’s $16b hangover

“Kiwis slurp about 400 million litres of alcohol a year…”

“Mr Brooking says 10 per cent of Kiwi drinkers get through nearly half of all alcohol consumed…”

Therefore – 10% of 4.4 million people is 440,000 people drinking 50% of 400 million litres of alcohol = 200 million litres. So 440,000 people drink 200 million litres of alcohol =  455 litres each per year. Or 1.2 litres per day. (3.6 bottles of 330ml beer).

How is the 400 million litres of beer made up? 320 million of beer plus wine plus spirits? Why cant the media make it clear on the facts they are stating.

But above it says 800,000 hazardous drinkers.

I just wish that we could have the actual facts, not made up numbers, numbers from a survey, or poll someone has done. If we were all working with the same information then maybe we could all work towards a common goal. Using numbers for your end goal and agenda just makes you loss credibility.


Bringing Back The Fear

“In other words, nothing to see here. Consumption of alcohol over the last thirty to forty years has fallen.”

Dom this was a great blog post. Well researched and very informative.


P.S. found the follow two contradicting articles interesting. Crime falls, and police surprised they aren’t getting any more money.

Crime rate falls to 29-year low

Police ‘despair’ at freeze









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.”