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Auckland Council sets tough booze ban

Auckland Council has outlined proposals to curb bar opening times and restrict liquor sales in an attempt to clamp down on regulated alcohol use.

It is one of the last councils to propose a local alcohol policy.

Under the revised Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, local bodies can produce their own individual policies. In smaller regions appeals from a range of groups have already begun against the draft policies.

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer has hit out at the plans – set to be approved for public consultation tomorrow – as “back to the future” restrictions.

The council wants to put a freeze on new liquor shops in the central city and bars will be forced to close earlier than Wellington.

Auckland also wants to restrict retail sales of liquor from 9am-10pm, a move council documents state is opposed by the supermarkets.

The morning ban will restrict shoppers from buying wine or beer with their weekly groceries, Mr Brewer says.

“This policy will make a joke of council’s latest marketing campaign that promotes Auckland as 'the show that never stops,'” Mr Brewer says.

Standard maximum closing hours for pubs and clubs will be shortened to 3am for the central city, while other areas will close at 1am.

Mr Brewer says the areas defined, as the central city are unfair because it includes Ponsonby but not Newmarket or Parnell, which will have to close at 1am.

The policy also puts a freeze on off-licences, which are granted to liquor retailers in the central city for two years.

Key policies:

  • Retail sales of liquor between 9am -10pm
  • Standard maximum closing hours of 3am for central city, 1am for suburbs
  • Freeze on off-licences for two years in the central city.

What do you think? What do you think of Auckland Council's proposed alcohol restrictions?  Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

More by Victoria Young

Comments and questions

Good luck to you...I'm not a drinker but from a tourist's point of view Auckland is pretty boring at night as it is..this country is too conservative. Loosen up

So the councils plan is to curb 3am violence by closing bars and putting everyone on the streets at 3am?? I would love to see the studies which conclude that shaving an hour off here and there on buying/selling times solves a problem much deeper rooted in education and the way people drink. Hospo industry is the one that will feel this most

No opinion on the content of this policy, but Brewer is a fool trying to draw the parallel between Ponsonby nightlife, and Newmarket / Parnell (does one even exist?).

Certainly not in Parnell, where the median age is around 85 years old.

Hell, 1am is probably ludicrously late for Parnell as it is. Maybe 8pm closing would be more realistic for the local clientele.

Closing Ponsonby at 1am would be absurd.

Yes and special parking spaces for zimmer frames at all parnell bars.

Absolutely, Newmarket has the most boring PC nightlife and bars in NZ. Altruist, excessive socially responsible and over zealous Remmers 20 year olds and Spainards mean that the Nuffield bars will refuse beer to anyone, not in a party and wholesome . Anywhere else in the kiwizone the rules are NZ standard, 5 minutes before you fall down unconcious. There were good bars in Parnell until 2 years ago, the Windsor notable. How intoxicated people are depends on mood, temperature, experience and degree of hapiness. Brewer like all the left Mps, Clarkites and puritan act MPs definitely will not be a man who rocks to 1970s sound that is about as advanced as NZ rock culture gets, ie Skynard, Jimmy Barnes. Hendrix , Black Sabbath, Killers, Doors, Dragon, Hello Sailor, Legionarers, U2 and maybe Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revo;ver, even Echo, Pretenders, Clash are proably too hard for the average kiwi and the real Aussie rock of the late 1970s Hoodo Guru, Chrisse Amphlett, Models is too much style and evil for our dead society.
Slit Ends folk music by the Finns brother and yodel by the Ponsonby lesbians is more the NZ politicians limit. Even 65 Stones would be too hard for Clark. The 1977 Stones you know Bitch, Dogs, Sweet 16 and little T & A, ' would have your average listener writer, herald columnist and labour Party member on the phone to the local MP or cop.
My own view is NZ became a wonderful country with 24/7 drinking in the 1990s and 2000s. Auckland is dominated by the cops and working class make fundamentalism and is a shithole now. Its so conservative here that there real hostility to individuals drinking alone the CBD bars are full of hard working class men a culture that vanished from site in Wellington and Christchurch 30 years ago and largely even in the provinces.
In NZ socially and hotel wise , NZ has never got close to even the standards of Australia and the US even 30 years ago before cafe culture. Even in my quite often travels through the best bars and hotels in Sydney and Melbourne and Honolulu in the 1980s for weeks we drank 6 bottles of wine a day, threw tips around like confetti , saw class in back bars in the Melbounre CBD, Torak and Rose Bay like you never see in Auckland and Wellington. We were so totaled we walked out of Waiki Sheranton if full dress suites without paying and the staff nicely walked after us and we returned with credit card.

Policy makers continue to dance around the obvious solution - Enforcement of the existing licensing laws.

Come down hard on a few of the worst offending bars and off licenses. Impose the maximum penalties, put a few out of business and see how quickly things improve.

Hit offending customers as well with proper fines for drunkeness and harsher penalties for violence. None of this community service crap that never gets done.

You are absolutely right. It is an offence to be drunk in a public place. Enforce it.

"Ponsonby Nighlife" is centred around a road which has a commercial area just 1 property deep, ie A bar on Ponsonby Road has a house behind it.

Infact there are about 6000 residential households in the area, of which there are about 300 shops, and maybe about 10-15 bars which may open late.

For a mostly residential area closing bars at a reasonable hour is appropriate given the issues that alcohol causes ie rubbish, noise, dangerous behaviour.

Yep lets punish the 99% who just want a quiet beer when they feel like it (& it up to them when that is) because of a few drunks (punish them harshly - esp. with drinking bans) & NIMBY's (the Bars were there before you brought the house i bet).

It's more likely the house was already there ie) bought, rather than the past tense of having to bring it from somewhere else

I see the next wannabee Mayor promoting himself

Real cash fines at time. To cells until paid

And will the Council give these businesses a reduction in rates for their loss of profits.??

As other commentators have opined above, the elephant in the room in curbing drunken bahaviour, is enforcing existing laws. Duh.

Dead right!
How is it that Las Vegas can have 24 hour bars & public drinking permitted & no trouble ? simple the Police enforce the law.
We have a lack of policing, but the powers would rather just punish the majority for the actions of a few....pathetic.

Does this Council think that the world's most liveable city is a boring one?

The 3am closing times reeks of the police being far too presumptive in telling everybody how they should live and what they should enjoy. They should not be lobbying councils around the country as they have been, they should pass their views up the chain to the Minister responsible and have it considered at that political level.

Closing nightclubs at 3am is a joke policy idea which proves the utter lack of imagination or creativity here. The worst offenders in terms of on-licence alcohol hare the pub-style establishments which are busiest between about 10pm and 1am. Making the handful of previously late night venues close a few hours earlier does nothing whatsoever to address the earlier problem-period. All is does it punish mostly the wrong people - those who chose to make dancing late at night their preferred entertainment.

It is ridiculous how many avenues for potential success have been outright ignored in the SSAA and Local Alcohol Policy progress. The councils are making changes more out of the need to be seen to be doing something rather than doing something that will actually change habit and attitudes of those who cause the most issues.

There is no reason a bar should be open after 1 am. Council are irresponsible proposing 3 am for certain areas. If the logic of 1 am applies in most places surely it applies to all.
The liquor industry buys influence with politicians and its conflicted apologists are already emerging to do their bidding.
Liquor is as big a problem as tobacco. Its time we got real on this "legal high" and treated it as we now do the destructive psychoactive substances recently in the news.

*Old man shakes fist and yells "Get off my lawn"*

Spoken like someone whose idea of life is anything they don't personally partake in/enjoy has no merit and therefore should be subject to unreasonable restrictions "just because."

Many thousands of people chose to make their Friday and Saturday nights their weekly entertainment and the vast majority of them drink responsibly. Why should they suffer because of an issue which cannot be solved by operating hours alone - which is the story we're being sold by the council?

People should have a choice on when they want to drink, and most people drink responsibly.

The council are trying to strike a balance between keeping drinkers happy, business and industry people happy and of course residents happy.

So in terms of closing hours accross the region, 3am closing should be a good balance for all. Strictly enforce the liqour licensing laws and this should be acceptable to most people.

If you make the closing time 1am, then maybe this could be Sun-Thursday, then 3 am Fri-Sat.

Please explain why 3am is a good balance? It is not. It specifically punishes the people who do not contribute the most to the problem and ignores the fact that the pub-style drinking establishments which contribute the most (on-licence) will be unaffected.

For those who like to go out dancing late 3am is their version of midnight for most others. They do so responsibly in the vast majority so why should they accept knee-jerk policy which ignores the main sources of the problems the council is attempting to address?

When seeking a balance its about a solution that fits somehere between what each group is after.

To say 5am closing is an acceptable balance will not work. I understand some people will be disadvantaged who like a drink past 3am, but so will those who support 1am closing are also affected by the antisocial behaviour they perceive is unacceptable.

So a balance is required, and 3am closing across the whole city does not seem to extreme.