Petition wants MPs to challenge alcohol industry head-on

By Stefan Dimitrof

Health leaders are keen to show support  for Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's alcohol reforming bill now before Parliament

They are presenting an over 8000-signature petition to Parliament to emphasise their support for reform of the alcohol laws.

The leader of Hāpai Te Hauora, Salah Hart, and Alcohol Health Watch, want Parliament to pass the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Harm Minimisation Amendment Bill.

The bill could be debated as soon as next month. It aims to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship for sports broadcasts and block appeals of councils’ local alcohol policies.

“We will be presenting the petition on the steps of Parliament to demonstrate the need and want by the community and by others in the sector to reform our alcohol law, which does not fit the current landscape of alcohol harm," Hart said.

Hart said advertising glamorised alcohol and they wanted to remove the association between alcohol and sport and remove the disproportionate control the alcohol industry had over local alcohol licencing.

Power to the community

She said Māori suffered disproportionate levels of alcohol harm and the bill would endeavour to stop that harm by alcohol by removing advertising from sporting events.

“What it would do is immediately halt all that. We don’t need that. We don’t need to see a huge range of alcohol marketing to what New Zealanders see as our pride, our sporting prowess.”

“The second part will give more power back to the community."

If someone wanted a new bottle store to be put into the corner shops in Mangere or any community across Aotearoa there was a process where a community was meant to have a say but that wasn't working.

Hart said that, currently, the law allowed the alcohol industry, which had huge bank accounts, to start a legal battle against councils able to get licences approved against the wishes of the community.

“We need to be really mindful of where that money is derived from and how we can do better.”