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Sale of Liquor Amendment Bill
What the Bill proposes
(Part 2, C.106-111, including new S.115, 117, 117A)

New term ‘licence controller’ for person responsible whether licensee or managers responsibilities…

  • to be present at all time alcohol is on sale.
  • use of temporary manager limited to four days a month
  • Training requirements for ‘licence controllers’ certificate
  • Two-tier training requirements, for managing on-licensed or off licensed premises
  • at a date to be decided by Order in Council.

Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit

  • supports these proposals
  • supports management and training requirements for clubs
    (but not not by repealing club -licences - see

and further recommends:

  • That the ‘host responsibility’ concept be included application requirements [S.13. S35, S59].
  • That promotions, competitions or pricing structures that encourage fast or excess drinking be expressly prohibited.
  • That the Medical Officer of Health’s power of delegation, entry and closure be equal to those of the other statutory agencies.
Training requirements
The Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit supports the proposed requirements for training for licensees and managers who will be in control.
This approach has been developing informally, since the suitability of the applicant is the main criterion for a licence (along with planning permission). Such training is now widely available in New Zealand from polytechnics, and in some areas short courses are provided by District Licensing Agencies or health promotion officers. The Bill offers the opportunity to formalise this successful practice.

This training requirement is consistent with developments in other comparable countries. For example, it has become a standard practice of justices' licensing committees in England and Wales, as a satisfactory way of meeting the requirement in the 1964 legislation that licensees be 'fit and proper' (Light 1994). Server training for staff is now widespread in Australia and the US, and research shows that it can impact on drinking environments and drinking practices when backed by adequate enforcement and public education campaigns (McKnight & Streff 1993; Stockwell 1992) and significantly reduce alcohol related harm such as drink drive crashes (Holder & Wagenaar 1994).

Managers to be present
The new term ‘licence controller’ aims to cover the persons present and responsibility for the premises, whether that person is the licence holder or employees acting as manager. That person will be required to be trained and certified.
The requirement that such a person be present at all times when alcohol is being sold is supported. Also supported is the tightening of provisions on temporary managers to limit the use of these to a maximum of four days a month.
Improving club management
Research interviews with local statutory officers indicated concern that some larger clubs were becoming 'de facto taverns', but were run by committees with annually changing members who could be under- informed about their responsibilities under the Act (Hill & Stewart 1996). In the 1995 national survey of drinking, one in five of the 14-17 years olds had drunk alcohol in a sports club in the last 12 months (Wyllie, Millard & Zhang 1996).
An appropriate strategy for smaller clubs may be to arrange training for several committee members and rotate the responsibility to be present while the bar is open.

The proposal to repeal club licences and make clubs on-licensed premises is not supported, although this would make them subject to new management and training requirements when these are introduced.

Host responsibility
Strengthening ‘host responsibility’ in the Act
The Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit supports a strengthening of licence criteria and conditions that require responsible management by licensees and encourage the consumption of food with alcohol (Wyllie, Holibar & Tunks 1995; Hill & Stewart 1996). These are seen as the key to improving drinking environments and drinking practices by patrons (Saltz 1987; Single 1994).
The concept of 'host responsibility' should be specifically named in the Act in relation to criteria and conditions for all types of licence. This issue has been raised by alcohol health promoters and others working at the local level of liquor licensing. Submissions calling for ‘host responsibility’ to be strengthened in the Act were not been taken up by the Liquor Review report or the Bill (Ministry of Justice 1996). This issue of how this might be done was explored with key informants from a range of positions in liquor licensing (Hill & Stewart 1998) and is included in recommended amendments to licence criteria and conditions.
Undesirable promotions
The Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit supports the re-introduction of S.246 in the 1962 Act (see next page) or a similar prohibition of promotions or pricing which encourage excessive or faster drinking. The banning of undesirable promotions is increasingly common in licensing legislating in comparable countries to NZ (Hill 1997). See also later section on advertising.
Public Health input into licensing
The requirement of Medical Officers of Health to report on licence applications and renewals has contributed a public health perspective on licensing which complements the more regulatory and enforcement oriented perspectives of the other statutory agencies. Locally based Health Protection or Health Promotion Officers inquiring on behalf of Medical Officers of Health have developed a very useful role in promoting responsible host practices on licensed premises. The active presence of a health promotion officer working with licensed premises tends to increase the attention given to food and other host responsibility practices by officers of other statutory agencies (Hill & Stewart 1996).
However, this work is not well supported by the Act. In particular, the MOH has no formal power of delegation and local health officers have reported that their role is sometimes in question because of this. Nor are the role and routine work of the Medical Officer of Health backed by the same power to apply for closure, suspension or cancellation that the police and inspectors have in their area of competence, except on matter of hygiene under the Food Act.

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Sale of Liquor Act 1962

S.246. Inciting persons to drink.
(1) Every licensee or manager conducting the business on an licensed premises commits and offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding [$….] who incites any person to drink.
(2) The offer or supply of liquor to any person without charge and by way of reasonable hospitality shall not amount to inciting for the purposes of this section.
Examples from comparable countries
Excerpt from Hill, L. (1997) Regulating the sale of liquor: International perspectives.
Auckland: Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit.
Discounts and undesirable promotions
An issue in the context of host responsibility is promotions which encourage excess drinking through competitions, discounts or 'happy hours'.
The way excise taxes affect alcohol pricing and consumption is outside the scope of this study. However, some states seek to control consumption by stabilising wholesale pricing. This is case in those states which retain direct monopoly control over the wholesaling and distribution of liquor, but California also regulates wholesale pricing as well as licensing producers and distributors. Any form of commission selling of alcohol at the retail level is unlawful in California.
In Canada, tight control and monopolistic distribution have stabilised the price of alcohol, reducing the promoting of alcohol through price-cutting. As with New Zealand's restrictive licensing regime before 1989, 'in a strange way they helped producers by reducing uncertainty in the market place' (Draper 1985). Although now virtually anywhere that serves food can be licensed to serve alcohol, provincial and territorial liquor control authorities continue to set prices, as well as conditions of advertising and sale. This means that little price competition occurs.
The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission addresses undesirable promotions in its Licensees' Manual. Progressive or escalating prices or 'beat the clock' promotions are not permitted, nor any promotions or contests which promote excessive consumption. No financial subsidies from manufacturers are permitted for reduced prices during any promotion by licensed premises.

In Ontario, prices may not be advertised outside premises, either specifically ('$2 shots') or by description ('cheap beer'). Discounts on the price per shot, for example in doubles or cocktails, are limited and 'happy hours' are illegal. Discounts and samples from manufacturers are also limited, as are any kind of commission, kickback or favour. Liquor may not be used as a prize, and the Liquor Licence Board lists among 'don'ts' for licensees:
..contests that involve buying, drinking or winning liquor, or which require the customer to stay on the premises in order to win a prize. (LLBO 1993)

Norway also prohibits special discounts to the consumer on alcohol beverages, and alcohol may not be auctioned or raffled.
Low alcohol beer also provides a means of reducing intoxication. Recently, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of Queensland has called on the state government to reduce the licensing fee levied on sales of low alcohol beer, noting it is only $A3 cheaper than full strength beer. In Melbourne low strength beer is over $A10 cheaper than full strength beer, and in New South Wales is exempted from fee assessment (Courier Mail 15.10.96). Until recently, the price of regular strength Australian beer was indexed to the cost of living (Hawkes 1993), but this has recently been ended as part of policies of deregulation.
In Tasmania the Commission has no power under the Act to regulate irresponsible serving, promotional or discounting practices, but can act under relevant sections of the Act if these give rise to public concern. The Commission has facilitated agreements between licensees on such practices, with limited success, and it is expected that these will eventually be prohibited by legislation.

New South Wales has just introduced new 'harm minimisation' regulations forbidding licensees to encourage liquor abuse or misuse, on pain of a $5000 fine or six months imprisonment. In Queensland attempts to have aspects of a Code of Practice relating to promotions of cheap alcohol included into legislative amendments were criticised by the Trade Practices Commission (McIlwain, pers. comm). However, the Commission concurred with the regulation on responsible practices implemented in mid 1995, which includes references to cut price promotions which encourage rapid or excessive drinking: Examples are:

  • promoting the consumption of drinks known as 'laybacks', 'shooters' or test-tubes'
  • promoting 'free drinks for two hours', '3 drinks for the price of 1' or 'all you can drink for $10'.

The 1994 review of the Western Australia licensing legislation was prompted by the death by alcoholic poisoning of a young person participating in a drinking contest in a Perth Hotel. However, proposals to prohibit or attach conditions to licences in relation to irresponsible promotions of alcohol have not yet been implemented (National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse 1994; Evans 1995).

Some promotions do not directly incite excessive or rapid drinking, but attract alcohol business through promotions which neighbours or some other members of the public may consider undesirable or which encourage objectionable behaviour. There is a proposal in Western Australia to disallow 'lewd or indecent behaviour' through conditions attached to licences. However this would not control one example of lewd behaviour in one BYO restaurant in Perth 'where customers can eat off almost naked women', since 'bring your own' alcohol does not require a licence in that state. Raunchy Productions is unlikely to be granted the BYO licence it would need to open a similar restaurant in South Australia (The Advertiser 13.11.96). In the Northern Territory where there is a high rate of outlets per capita, the use of sex to sell alcohol through striptease and live sex shows became increasingly innovative, and in one town was associated with attacks on local women. A voluntary industry code was not upheld by hoteliers but was eventually incorporated into legislation as a result of widely organised community action.

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