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An opportunity for metro council local alcohol policies?

An opportunity for metro council local alcohol policies?

An opportunity for metro council local alcohol policies?

Tuesday 19 July, 2022

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into force almost ten years ago. Local Alcohol Policies (LAPs) were to be a key component of the new ‘harm minimisation’ approach. Communities were to be given a voice on issues like outlet density and proximity to sensitive sites like schools.

But after almost a decade, none of the country’s four biggest cities has a LAP. That’s because of the convoluted and costly appeals process for LAPs. Supermarkets and bottle shops have used the appeals process to their advantage and the community has been shut out. Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton all pulled the plug on their provisional LAPs at various points during the appeals process. Appeals against Auckland’s provisional LAP are still on-going. This April the supermarket chains were granted leave to appeal Auckland Council’s provisional LAP to the Supreme Court.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill would change this. It would repeal the appeal process entirely. To adopt a LAP, a local authority would simply have to consult its community (which the Act already requires). Supermarkets and bottle shops could still participate in consultation alongside all other members of the community. But they would have no right to appeal against the LAP. Ordinary judicial review rights would continue to apply where there were errors of law or process.  

The Bill is a Member’s Bill and was recently pulled from the Parliamentary Biscuit Tin. It was introduced to the House on 30 June 2022. The date of its first reading has not been set.

Before being pulled from the Biscuit Tin, the Bill was endorsed by several local authorities including Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council, and Auckland Council. It will be interesting to see to what extent the support that the Bill has received at the local authority level translates in Parliament. We will keep a watching brief on the Bill’s progress and provide updates in future editions of Legal Brief.


Megan has advised Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council and Rotorua Lakes Council on appeals against their provisional LAPs. As noted above, Hamilton City Council ultimately chose not to pursue its provisional LAP. Waikato District Council and Rotorua Lakes Council have LAPs in place.

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