Well ‘crackdown’ probably doesn’t really do it. To me ‘crackdown’ has quite strong inferences and what the government has come up with in their ‘Alcohol Reform Bill’ I suspect is not going to properly address problems that exist in New Zealand society today, particularly with the issue of ease of access to cheap booze. I believe the Law Commission came up short in their recommendations when they reviewed the sale of liquor in New Zealand. They made various suggestions regarding where alcohol may be sold but pretty much left Supermarkets alone other than putting restrictions and guidelines in place as to how and where liquor can be advertised, promoted, and displayed. It strikes me that the proper place for liquor to be sold is a establishment whose business is alcohol! The impact on these businesses of various steps in years gone by to deregulate liquor sales has meant few people (comparatively) actually buy from hotels and numbers who buy from liquor stores have dropped significantly. Unless you wish to buy other than beer and wine, why would you NOT shop for your alcohol at the local supermarket! They have scale on their side and are able to cut the prices of product to little more than cost because they make all of their profits from other essentials (especially dairy products? No! Don’t get me started!) To my mind it makes little difference to the issue of availability if supermarkets are simply told to change promotion and display. I don’t see a walk extended by probably little more than 50-100 metres is going to change buying habits. If people are going into a supermarket to buy their alcohol supplies it isn’t going to be any matter to them that there is no advertising or display stacks by the entrance. If they are buying on an impulse while grocery shopping, it’s likely they are in the liquor aisles at the time, not convinced necessarily by any advertising they might walk past at the entrance.When current changes are found to be inadequate and the government amends a Sale Of Alcohol Act again they should pull the plug on supermarket sales and restrict sales of beer and wines to establishments licenced specifically for that purpose- wine retailers, hotel off licences and liquor stores. If it means that people are forced to pay slightly more for their beer or wine, so be it- at least the controls that are applied to liquor sales can be more easily policed, and penalties for infringement have a suitably penal effect and thus be a greater deterrant.
THEN when the changes are discovered to have been less than effective the government of the day can do some more navel gazing, commission another review and tinker a bit more. Babies will continue to be abused and/or killed, wives will continue to be beaten, teenagers will continue to have drunken public-place-parties, young women will continue to disgrace themselves in public and alcohol-and-testosterone-amped young men will drive themselves and their mates into early graves.