31 Jul 2009

Hospitality industry expresses scapegoat fears

6:46 pm on 31 July 2009

The hospitality industry fears it will be unfairly targeted by proposed reforms to liquor laws while the real cause of drinking problems remains untackled.

The Law Commission has suggested keeping the drinking age at 18 for licensed premises, but raising it to 20 at off-licences.

It also recommends making licences to sell alcohol harder to get, increasing taxes on liquor and reducing the hours during which it can be sold.

Hospitality Association spokesperson Bruce Robertson says most of the measures seem unfairly to target licensed premises, which sell only about a third of New Zealand's alcohol.

Call for funding boost

Alcohol abuse lobbyists say the under-resourced sector will need a significant funding boost if radical plans to tackle alcohol abuse are to be successful.

The Law Commission expressed concern about the grave lack of facilities and programmes to allow people with alcohol problems to be assessed and treated.

The Drug and Alcohol Practitioners' Association, which includes doctors, nurses and social workers, says the solutions will help reduce alcohol harm, but the treatment sector will need more funding to cope with increased demand.