Slow Progress On Alcohol Bill

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 — 10:03 PM

There were scenes of confusion as MPs reached only the beginning of part three of the Alcohol Reform Bill when Parliament rose on Tuesday night.

There are 11 parts to the bill which the Government is hoping to complete the committee stage debate this week.

Opposition parties did little to facilitate the Government’s wishes as they believed the Government’s changes to the bill watered down the recommendations of the Law Commission report from which the bill was originally born.

Delays came as MPs disagreed about both the substance of the bill and the process it was being dealt under.

The Government made some progress on its 20 supplementary order papers which make a host of amendments, but other parties had less luck as National MPs voted as a bloc and Labour cast split votes.

Amongst the amendments shot down were Hone Harawira’s proposal for a review of the legal age to purchase to alcohol (earlier this year Parliament voted to retain this at 18) by 70 votes to 50; and a number of SOPs proposing varying degrees more stringent control on liquor advertising were also defeated by similar margins.

There was confusion at times about the vote because of the complex nature of the bill and the way voting was structured.

There are likely to be similar occurrences on Wednesday as MPs debate part three of the bill which amongst other things will cover licensing requirements, minimum pricing proposals and Local Area Plans.

It looked initially as this could be a lengthy process as the chairman Lindsay Tisch initially determined there would be separate debates on five subject areas, each which could theoretically take many hours. After hurried discussions, he said the Business Committee had ruled there would be one debate which would limit each MP to four calls.

Opposition MPs expressed a great deal of disgust that they were declined leave to get extended calls for spokespeople on part three.

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