Representatives from The Salvation Army attended the presentation of a petition for the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill, outside Parliament on 28 September. The petition was sponsored by Alcohol Healthwatch and Hāpai te Hauora. Also present to support were Members of Parliament – such as Chlöe Swarbrick, Arena Williams and representatives from a range of organisations, including Age Concern, Victim Support and E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services.
The provisions of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 have been repeatedly appealed by the liquor industry over the years and many councils had all but given up due to the cost of responding to the appeals. Strengthening the legislation to give communities a say is a key reason for the proposed Bill to amend the Act. There is a high level of support for the proposed Bill.
Lt-Colonel Ian Hutson, director of the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit at The Salvation Army, spoke at the presentation, representing the Army’s stance on the Bill. He said that The Salvation Army strongly supports the Bill.
‘We deal with the consequences of alcohol misuse on a daily basis through our addiction and other social services,’ he said.
He mentioned some alarming statistics: 50 percent of family harm offenders are under the influence; 25 percent of suicides are alcohol related; 36 percent of prisoners have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder; 30 percent of vehicle incidents are caused by drunk drivers; and 60 percent of families (whānau) who come to The Salvation Army Community Ministries indicate that they or their family have been negatively affected by alcohol misuse.
Ian went on to say that communities are in a ‘David and Goliath’ battle with the liquor industry. ‘We see communities and councils struggle to limit the number of liquor outlets in their communities,’ he said. ‘The current law marginalises communities.’
Big corporations seem to have the power through sponsorship and marketing of alcohol, especially for young men within sport, so the Bill aims to limit this.
Other issues the Bill would address are the oversupply of alcohol and how readily available it is, especially to those most vulnerable in communities.
The Bill will be put to a conscience vote at first reading in the coming weeks and therefore people are encouraged to contact their local MPs to encourage them to support the Bill.
Photo: Catherine Cattanach. Used with permission.