A win for community voice in alcohol harm prevention (OurActionStation)

Community action, facilitated by ActionStation and supported by Hāpai Te Hauora and Alcohol Healthwatch, helped bring about a significant change to alcohol laws in August this year to give everyday people more say in alcohol licensing in their communities.

With the support of over 8,000 people on an OurActionStation petition and 110+ organisations on an open letter, the campaign took the communities’ concerns to Parliament in September 2022.

In the words of the campaign team:

“New Zealanders have signed our petition for all sorts of reasons; for their tamariki, their parents, their sober mates, their vulnerable communities, their doctors, their nurses, and so many more. We’ve gone from strength to strength and the voices calling for change have grown louder.”

Initially, the campaign called for support for Chlöe Swarbrick's member’s bill, but after seeing the widespread support behind the issue, the Labour Government picked it up and made their own, similar, bill. Once that bill got to the Select Committee, a mini website to support folks to make submissions was set up, resulting in almost a quarter of all of the submissions being made through the site.

A big  group of people in front of parliament with a sign saying 'Pass the Bill' in the background.

✅ Now anyone can have a say about alcohol licences in their communities – it’s not restricted to neighbours or limited by an arbitrary boundary.

✅ Tikanga and te reo Māori will be allowed in the hearing processes and District Licensing Committees will be given tikanga training.

✅ Community members objecting to a licence will no longer be subjected to cross examination. Often these were by very experienced lawyers, with one community member recalling leaving in tears after hours of cross examination by an alcohol industry lawyer.

✅ The ability to appeal a Local Alcohol Policy has been removed. This will help councils to realise the community’s wishes and implement sensible controls on alcohol, without the threat of costly court cases.