The Dom Post editorial:
It is true that problem drinking remains a feature of New Zealand, and that the harms caused by alcohol are substantial, from crime to hospital admissions. It’s fair for the police to offer their impressions of this problem – they are the ones who stand, sober, on Courtenay Place at 4am and witness it.
It is also absolutely fair for the police to strictly enforce the law, as this newspaper has advocated many times, when bars serve under-age or drunken patrons, or market alcohol irresponsibly.
Yet the police are ultimately only the enforcers – not the makers – of the rules. They know about alcohol harm, but they do not have to weigh that against the atmosphere and colour that come with a bustling central city.
The politicians do that. And Wellington City Council made a very reasonable case this week when it unanimously reaffirmed its existing rules – arrived at after wide consultation in 2013.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown rightly pressed Bensemann for some evidence that supported his claims. When it wasn’t forthcoming, she simply repeated that the council needed solid data.
This is entirely fair – and the police should take the hint. If they really have been quietly pressing owners to accept earlier closing times, that is out of line and it needs to stop.
Will the Police listen though and accept their job is to enforce the law not make it?
If they don’t, I think an MP should put forward a members’ bill changing the Act to restrict their role in alcohol licence applications.