Auckland Council’s regional strategy & policy committee agreed yesterday to send its draft local alcohol policy out to public consultation – without an amendment sought by Cllr Cameron Brewer exempting supermarkets from alcohol sales from 7-9am.
Cllr Brewer argued that this was a small segment of the market, mainly mothers who’d gone shopping after taking their children to school.
He was supported by Cllr Christine Fletcher, who said: “If we want the community to come along with us, we must not introduce anomalies.” Before 9am, she said, surveys showed the majority of shoppers were working women aged 30-60.”My fear is, unless we support the amendment, this is the sort of issue that will become the focus.”
Cllr Dick Quax added, in support of the amendment: “If you leave shopping until late Sunday afternoon, the shelves might be empty. The real problem is alcopops.”
Cllr Denise Krum, also supporting Cllr Brewer, said: “it’s a no-brainer for us to set the parameters for debate. You should be able to pick up the beef for your crockpot, a bottle of wine for dinner.”
But Cllr Arthur Anae responded: “If we’re going to do this is we should open up all the policy to amendments.”
Mayor Len Brown commented: “If this isn’t the right balance, we’ll find it. It’s not the debate we need to have at this time.”
And deputy mayor Penny Hulse added: “Today’s not about the issues…. If we make it open slather to the supermarkets – this is about a very successful lobby group who’ve managed to get an amendment up here.”
The business before the committee was to recommend consultation be started, whereas Cllr Brewer’s amendment was about content of the policy.
In a later item on the committee’s agenda, about how the council should deal with improvements to fresh water around the region, Cllr Wayne Walker asked for staff to put all the options on the table. That’s not always a practicality, and probably isn’t when staff have the task of presenting a workable policy on which the public – and councillors – will have the opportunity to submit.
Because the policy is about alcohol – and particularly about late-night drinking & behaviour in the cbd – it will arouse strong opinions no matter what draft policy is presented.
The amendment was defeated 14-7 and the substantive motion carried 20-2.
Next steps are to appoint a hearings panel, followed by consultation in June-July, hearings in August, so the hearing panel can report back to the council with a recommended policy in October-November.
Attribution: Council committee meeting.