Christchurch City Council tells MPs to act now on alcohol harm reduction

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Christchurch City Council has become the next major Local Authority to pass a motion in support of Green Party Drug Reform Spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick’s Members’ bill to minimise alcohol harm – increasing the pressure on Parliament to act.

The vote at Christchurch City Council this afternoon follows a unanimous decision by Auckland Council last month to support the Harm Minimisation Bill.

“Auckland and Christchurch City Council together represent around two million New Zealanders. MPs simply cannot continue to ignore the level of support in our communities for action,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.

“The absurd current situation means community members must organise to fight every new bottle store one by one, because corporate interests have prevented our major Councils putting sensible rules in place. MPs can fix this easily and quickly by passing my Bill, removing arduous and inequitable special appeals processes.

“Much like Auckland Council, Christchurch City Council spent five years and $1.1million developing a Local Alcohol Policy before deciding to scrap it in 2017 because of the waste of time, energy and resources. Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch all do not have Local Alcohol Policies because of this current disempowering legal arrangement.

“Many MPs across the House say they’re concerned about alcohol-related crimes, but to date have refused to take necessary steps to deal with it. So often Parliament unfairly dictates to and patronises Local Government, but it’s clear Local Government is showing far more backbone here than Parliament has so far.

“Ngā mihi Mayor Dalziel for the leadership of your motion of support and all of the mahi you’ve done for years in this space. Thank you to the Christchurch City Councillors who today voted for greater wellbeing and less substance abuse. I hope my Parliamentary colleagues will follow your lead,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.

The Bill also ends the harmful link between alcohol and sport, which just this week has come to the fore with current and former All Blacks targeting alcohol advertising at young people. The Bill would wind down alcohol advertising in and sponsorship of broadcast sports, implementing recommendations from the 2014 Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship led by Sir Graham Lowe.

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