Liquor companies lobbied the Government furiously in the weeks before a reform package was announced.
They pressed Justice Minister Simon Power with claims he was being served up biased and flawed recommendations by the Law Commission.
Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show a procession of companies and industry groups wrote directly to Mr Power, but he insists they had no influence over his recommendations to the Cabinet.
On Monday, Mr Power announced changes that will affect bar hours, off-licence trading, liquor advertising and the purchase age. He declared a moratorium on meeting advocates on either side of the debate after the Law Commission tabled its report on alcohol law reform in April.
I’m sorry, but what is the purpose of this story?
The Minister refused to meet with lobbyists from either side. How could criticise him for that? So the story is about the fact is about that some industry groups wrote him a letter? Even worse, they wrote “directly” to him. Well how else do you write? Should they have sent letters to Mrs Smith of Taihape and asked her to pass them onto the Minister?
But that did not stop more than 150 people writing with concerns about liquor and a further six industry groups or companies sending their views.
As people and groups should. In fact it would be unthinkable for such groups to not write to the Minister with their views.
If there is a proposal to regulate the medical profession, would one expect the Medical Association to not offer its views? Of course not. So why is it newsworthy in this case? Because certain lobby groups are trying to push a theme that the “liquor industry” has too much influence. I can only imagine they wish them to be banned from writing letters.
On May 10, Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson wrote to Mr Power expressing “real concerns with the interpretation of some of the data … and inconsistencies with the [Law] Commission’s advocacy”.
The Law Commission seemed to have chosen data which supported the advocacy of the public health sector, he wrote. Then, on June 14, Mr Robertson wrote to Mr Power with a full commentary on 146 of the Law Commission’s 153 recommendations.
Bruce would be sacked if he did not offer a commentary on the recommendations. That is his job. Again – why is this a new story?
Where are the stories about how Alcohol Action is funded, and the massive amount of lobbying they have done?