Collins leads change in NZ’s drinking culture

  • Judith Collins

Legislation overhauling New Zealand’s out dated alcohol laws has passed its final reading in Parliament today.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says new laws for the sale and supply of alcohol mark a major milestone.

“For the first time in more than two decades Parliament has acted to restrict, rather than relax, our drinking laws.

“This Government has delivered for New Zealand a wide range of measures to reduce alcohol-related harm in our families and communities.

“Our changes will bring lasting change to our drinking culture. Our new laws provide many parts of society – from central to local government, communities and parents – with tools to make that happen.

“The Government recognises that social change cannot be achieved through legislation alone. We are all responsible for reducing alcohol-related harm and for changing our drinking culture. We all have a part to play.

“I am particularly pleased we have achieved a sensible balance between curbing the considerable harm alcohol abuse can cause, without unfairly affecting the majority of those who are responsible drinkers,” Ms Collins said.

The new laws willcome into force in stages and will be fully in place within 12 months of receiving Royal assent. This period of time is needed to develop regulations implementing the new laws, and to give territorial authorities, licensing bodies and licensees time to prepare for the changes.

“Over the next 12 months, I encourage local authorities to develop and consult on their local alcohol policies. This will mean they are ready to go as soon as all regulations implementing the new laws are in place,” Ms Collins said.

Key new laws to reduce alcohol-related harm:

  • give local communities a say on alcohol licensing, such as determining maximum trading hours in their area and limiting the location of licensed premises near certain facilities, such as schools.
  • introduce stronger rules about the types of stores eligible to sell alcohol and restricting supermarkets and grocery stores to displaying alcohol in a single area.
  • require the supply of alcohol to under-18-year-olds to be done so in a responsible manner.
  • require express consent from parents or guardians before supplying alcohol to a minor.
  • introduce new liquor licensing criteria, making licences harder to get and easier to lose.
  • introduce stronger controls on alcohol advertising and promotion, such as by making it an offence to promote alcohol in a way that has special appeal to minors.

In earlier stages of the Parliamentary process, the legislation was known as the Alcohol Reform Bill, but it was split into the three bills during the Committee of the Whole House stage. The three bills are the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Bill, the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill and the Summary Offences (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Bill.

The three bills are expected to receive Royal assent before Christmas.

Additional information about the changes will be available on the Ministry of Justice website,, once the bills receive Royal assent.