The Government is now progressing work on alcohol law in two phases: an immediate phase looking to improve community participation in alcohol licensing decisions, and a longer-term phase considering wider systematic reform.

In the short term

The immediate phase aims to make local alcohol licensing processes more accessible and fairer; and improve communities’ abilities to influence alcohol regulation in their area. 

An amendment bill, being introduced shortly, will include changes to licensing procedures so that:

  • anyone can object to licensing applications and be heard at licensing hearings,
  • licensing hearings are more informal and inquisitive (as opposed to legalistic and adversarial), and
  • parties can no longer appeal provisional local alcohol policies, and renewals are not exempt from conditions set out in recently adopted local alcohol policies.

In the longer term

Longer term there will be consideration of some wider issues including:

  • further improvements to licensing processes,
  • the licensing structure and new retail models,
  • conditions on alcohol licenses,
  • marketing, and
  • aspects of pricing.

Latest research

Earlier this month researchers published a report for Te Whatu ora – Health New Zealand looking at the impacts of alcohol supply on public spaces. The report looked at the impact of licenses being renewed in areas that had public objections. 

In particular, barriers to raising objections were considered in the report, including people being unaware of the license application, and the technical and legal difficulties for objectors during the hearing process. 

The report also finds a failure in considering the connection of Māori communities to the process, and failures in providing for Māori authority in decisions affecting Māori.

Get in touch

Please email Seán Mahoney, General Manager, Sector Performance for further information.