How can you flout a proposed law?

The Herald reports:

 Labour is accusing National of doing a backroom deal with supermarket giants after a new store apparently flouted proposed law changes by placing at its front door.

Alcohol reforms due to return to Parliament for their final stages this month would prevent supermarkets from putting beer and wine in places where it could not be avoided by customers.

What silly language. The law has not been passed yet, so you can not be flouting it.

Labour associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said he was surprised to see alcohol at the front entrance of a Countdown supermarket in Palmerston North which opened on Wednesday.

“I queried that … because obviously the Alcohol Reform Bill as it’s drafted at the moment would make that illegal. It seemed an unusual thing to do when the law change is so imminent.”

Also a silly statement to make. Apart from the fact that the Bill still has committee stage (and at ten parts could take well over a week) and third reading to go, the key clause only comes into effect 12 months after royal assent.

So is Iain saying that he thinks that it takes 15 months to move the location of alcohol in a store?

Mr Lees-Galloway said the managing director told him the supermarket expected this placement to be permitted once Justice Minister Judith Collins’ supplementary order paper (SOP) on the bill was passed.

“He was convinced that there wouldn’t be any need for him to move it once the legislation had been passed with the minister’s SOP.”

I’ve had no discussions with anyone in Government on this issue, but know a bit about it having been briefed on it by some supermarket people. If (and this is a big if) Mr Lees-Galloway is reporting the managing director correctly, then I suspect he is quite wrong.

There is an issue around the definition of thoroughfare in the bill, but not with the principle that alcohol not be displayed in prominent areas such as the entrance. It is simply about having it practical, especially for smaller operators.

So basically the entire story is a beat-up. There is no flouting of the law. The new requirement will not take force for at least 12 – 15 months and if there are any changes they are likely to be small technical ones in terms of this clause.

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