SUMMER 2000 - 01 ISSUE 29

News & Views

The Newsletter of Alcohol Healthwatch

Clean,Green,Safe & Fun

As Auckland seeks to market itself as a tourist and entertainment destination, alcohol and safety are seen as key parts of the mix! The introduction of a team of security guards in the downtown area and the possibility of a repeat of last years disruptions at ‘Christmas in the Park’, have once again highlighted alcohol and safety issues in Auckland City! Alcohol Healthwatch talks to Mayor Christine Fletcher about tourism, ‘Christmas In The Park’ and alcohol-related safety problems.

“Tourism is Auckland’s largest industry and our major foreign exchange earner, so it’s important Auckland gets maximum leverage out of events held in the city”, says Christine Fletcher. “For this to happen, safety has to be an integral part of the package. People need to feel safe when they come into the city. The best advertising is ‘through word of mouth’. People aren’t going to fly around the world to come here, if their friends report being intimidated by drunken hoons”.

Mayor Christine Fletcher
Mayor Christine Fletcher

A key focus for Auckland developments, such as Downtown or the new Britomart transport centre has been to create safe and people-friendly spaces. Increasingly, there is an expectation, especially amongst the young, that the city function as a 24-hour centre. There is a need for 24-hour transport and 24-hour policing. Safety is now an around-the-clock issue, not something that finishes at 2am.

To assist in dealing with alcohol-related problems, Council has endeavoured to build partnerships with the police, the community and the hospitality industry, with the aim of improving standards. To this end Council supported the establishment of an ‘Alcohol Accord’ in the America’s Cup and the Fort St areas. “However, the primary responsibility for safety falls with central government. After the America’s Cup, 80 police where taken out of Auckland. We have lobbied extensively to get them back”, says Fletcher. Unfortunately the upshot of this has been that the Heart of the City has had to employ security guards to make the streets safer.

Auckland City has also been advocating for changes to the Local Government Act, to give council greater powers so that they have the discretion to declare areas ‘alcohol free’ for longer periods of time.

The Mayor is concerned that this year’s ‘Christmas in the Park’ goes ahead without the problems of last year. “It is estimated that over 200,000 attended ‘Christmas in the Park’ last year. Unfortunately, there was a group of young people, independent of the event, that congregate by the Museum and their drunken behaviour gave the event negative publicity.”

After last year there was an extensive debriefing between the Police and the City. As a result, this year the area by the Museum has been designated alcohol free, while teams of youth workers and police will monitor the area. “Christmas in the Park is much loved in the Auckland region. It is important that Auckland gets the number of police to stage events such as this properly”, says Christine Fletcher ruefully.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

News & Views would like to wish all its readers a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and Good Health Promotion. Christmas and the New Year remain the last two great ‘politically incorrect’ celebrations, so we hope you will be able to enjoy them! Our wish is that you can return safely to your work for the challenges ahead in 2001.
    Merry Christmas!!

Alcohol and Petrol
The Sale of Liquor Act prohibits service stations from selling alcohol. Section 36(3)(a) of the Act states that “Any service station or other premises in which the principal business is the sale of petrol or other automotive fuels” is unable to hold a liquor licence. The Parliamentary review of the Sale of Liquor Act in 1999 confirmed this intent of law. In reality, however, petrol and alcohol are increasingly being sold together. A recent decision by the Liquor Licensing Authority (L.L.A) to renew the liquor licence of Taylor’s General Store in the Rangitaiki town of Hunterville highlights this concern.

The liquor off-license was renewed after viewing the store and hearing that fuel sales amounted to only 10.6 per cent of the turnover. It deemed that the principle business of the store was not the sale of petrol or other automotive fuels. While this is allowed under the existing law it drew comment from Alcohol Advisory Council chief executive Mike McAvoy, who forecasted a rush of applications for off-licenses from service stations. “I am concerned this sets a precedent and that no clear guidelines are set down as to how much income from fuel sales will be allowed before an off-licence application is not approved”, stated McAvoy.

However, perhaps of greater concern is the recent trend to site off-license premises on what clearly amounts to the same site as a petrol station. This recently happened on a redeveloped site in New North Rd, Kingland, an inner city Auckland suburb. The redevelopment saw the construction of a major forecourt area and directly behind the forecourt, the construction of a brand new building. Part of this building is now being used as the service centre for Gull Petroleum, while the other part of the building is being used as a liquor store. The liquor licence was given by Auckland City Council ‘off the papers’ as there was no public objection to the license or objection by the Police.

This decision by the Auckland City Council Licensing Inspectors begs the question of whether selling alcohol from the same building as the service station or from a shop that abuts the petrol forecourt is the same as selling alcohol from the service station itself. Alcohol Healthwatch believes this an extremely grey area. Gull Petroleum is known for selling alcohol from petrol stations in Australia, and appears to have achieved the same result in New Zealand, even though it is prohibited by the law.

Liquor License Saved By Samoan Classes
Alcohol Healthwatch considers the Liquor Licensing Authority (L.L.A.) needs to toughen up its stance when dealing with liquor licenses in South Auckland, and questions whether the L.L.A. applies the same rigorous standards it would apply in other parts of Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.

In a recent decision, (18 Oct, 2000) the L.L.A. failed to support the Police in opposing the renewal of a liquor license in Mangere, even though the Police produced numerous examples of grossly intoxicated patrons being on the premises. This included the case of a drunken patron sleeping on the floor, who when disturbed vomited on the member of the Police trying to wake him up!

The surrounding shopkeepers also reported patrons urinating and vomiting in shop doorways, as well as there being associated problems with fighting and unruly behaviour which had resulted in broken windows, broken bottles and other rubbish left lying around.

However, the L.L.A. took the view that while it accepted that the Police’s opposition to the renewal of the license was fully warranted, that on “balancing the obvious community support against the evidence of intoxication on the premises, we have decided to give the licensee one further chance to prove that the community’s faith is justified.”

The question is whether community support is a sufficient reason for not removing a liquor license? How many community ‘worthies’ are required to circumvent the law? Has the L.L.A become a soft touch? Under the Sale of Liquor Act, liquor licenses are supposed to be easy to get and easy to lose!

Apparently a room at the licensed premises in question is used for teaching a Samoan cultural class during the week. While the efforts to teach Samoan cultural classes are laudable and to be encouraged they should not be used a justification for the L.L.A. not to apply acceptable standards.

Auckland Safety Survey

Survey results support call for
ban on public drinking!

A survey conducted by Alcohol Healthwatch in Downtown Auckland on successive Friday nights found that 58% of those interviewed supported a by-law banning drinking alcohol in public places and street drinking in the CBD area. (Currently it is legal for anyone over the age of 18 years to drink in a public place.)

The survey was undertaken by Alcohol Healthwatch after a number of concerns had been expressed about safety in the Downtown area at night. The survey of a 100 people was of people using the city on Friday evenings. Many of those interviewed reported that they had been intimidated by people drinking form open containers in the streets, and that this had become more of a problem since the lowering of the drinking age to 18 years of age.

The survey also found that 77% of those interviewed believed that there needed to be more police present on the streets. While 76% believed that there needed to be better lighting in the city, especially around parking areas and side streets. People reported feeling safest in those areas of the city which were well lit, and where there were lots of people, such as the area around the Imax Centre.

The survey indicated that there needed to be a holistic approach to problems of safety in the city at night, with a range of measures promoting safety that included good urban design, appropriate levels of policing and sensible controls on alcohol. Ironically, those areas of the city that people considered least safe, were areas where the Auckland City Council owns a high proportion of the properties, such as the Fort Street and Britomart areas.

Increasingly, the Auckland CBD is developing a reputation as the night-time entertainment centre for the Auckland region. It is also the ‘showcase’ precinct for restaurants, bars and entertainment for international tourists visiting New Zealand. However, if Auckland City is serious about presenting the CBD as a tourist and entertainment centre then it needs to take the issue of safety in the city serious. Otherwise, Auckland is likely to continue to be seen as the worlds largest country town.

Summary Safety In The City:

Bigger Threat than Tobacco

Alcohol-related problems pose a significant threat to world health, more so than tobacco use, and are of particular concern in developing countries, according to a report about to be published by the World Health Organisation in Geneva. Alcohol is responsible for 3.5 per cent of global death and disability. Tobacco-related illness accounts for only 2.7 per cent, while illegal drugs cause only 0.6 per cent. Alcohol use and related health problems have tended to be highest in developed countries and the countries of the former Soviet Union. However, rapidly developing countries are now catching up.
    The Globe Magazine, 2000, issue 2

Kids Forge Pub IDs on School Computers

Christchurch teenagers are using school computer facilities to forge fake IDs to get into city pubs, police say. Christchurch police Sergeant Peter Shaw said several underage drinkers had been caught recently trying to enter licensed premises using fake or altered driver’s licences. “The quality of the forgeries varied,” Sergt Shaw said. In some cases the licence holder had simply doctored the last digit of the year of the their birth. In other cases, the end result was ‘very professional’. Some of them are the work of very professional amateurs. “It would appear that facilities of some of our educational establishments are being used to produce them” Shaw said.
    Christchurch Press, 5 December, 2000


Message of Responsible Drinking

Kaio Rivers of Ngai Takato, in the Far North, has been working as the Maori Advocate for Alcohol Healthwatch since April 1998. His role has been to build awareness of alcohol health promotion issues with the aim of encouraging safe drinking practices. An early focus of Kaio’s work was the Sale of Liquor Act Review. “Most Maori were opposed to measures that increased the availability of alcohol, such as the lowering of the drinking age. Part of my role was to take this message to Maori and Pakeha MPs,” says Kaio. With this in mind the former Minister of Maori Affairs, Tau Henare, invited Kaio and Alcohol Healthwatch to make a presentation at the Beehive to MPs on the impact of the proposed changes. “The presentation was well attended by MPs, and the Minister was particularly strong in his opposition to the lowering of the drinking age,” says Kaio.

Kaio has also been working to support local marae and alcohol health providers, and is keen to develop a strong network of Maori alcohol health promotion workers. He is encouraged by the Alcohol Advisory Council moves to establish a Maori position working in the Auckland area. “From my personal experience, I am fully aware of the problems of alcohol abuse and the resultant damage to whanau, iwi and hapu. It is important that the issues of alcohol misuse are addressed, so as to develop a strong community.” In 2000, Kaio has been working on an exciting new project aimed at linking sport, sport sponsorship and the promotion of responsible drinking. It is intended that the programme will have special focus on Maori youth. “For Maori, sport is a natural extension of community, and I believe that sport is an exciting vehicle for getting the message of responsible drinking across.”

“The alcohol industry puts so much money into sports sponsorship, that it is important that an alternative view is also put forward that encourages young people to make healthy choices,” says Kaio. As Alcohol Health-watch’s Maori advocate, Kaio has taken his ‘panui’ to a number of Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister of Youth Affairs, Laila Harre, and he has discussed the issue of a sponsorship fund with most of the Maori MPs. He has also advocated for his proposals in discussion with key organisations, such as the Alcohol Advisory Council, the Ministry of Health, the Hillary Commission, Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Kaio hopes that action will be taken on his sport sponsorship proposals in 2001.

21 - 23 March 2001, Alcohol Advisory Council
‘Working Together 2001 Conference’ Te Papa, Wellington
News & Views

Alcohol Healthwatch
PO Box 99407, Newmarket, Auckland
Ph: (09) 520 7038 Fax: (09) 520 7175
This newsletter is funded by HFA