Demand to change the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 to abolish Section 47

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This petition is a demand for a change to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012; namely to abolish Section 47 – Subsection (1) (a) and (b), Subsection (2) and Subsection (3) regarding the restrictions to on-licence premises on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and allow these premises to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday under their usual licensing terms and conditions.

Under Section 47 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act Subsection (1), on-licensed premises throughout New Zealand must ensure that no alcohol is sold or supplied on the premises unless it is to people residing or lodging on the premises or ‘people who are present on the premises to dine’ and off licensed premises must be closed. This effectively places extreme limits on the way people can celebrate and enjoy their long weekend. Good Friday (a public holiday) and Easter Sunday (not a public holiday) are two of the most significant days on the Christian calendar, marking the death and resurrection of Christ. Restrictions on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act are symbolically used as a mark of temperance as these days are meant to be observed as days of mourning, not of festive joy. In the 2013 New Zealand census 41.92% of people identified as non-religious. This was the highest affiliation followed by ‘Other Christianity’ at 15.14%. As citizens of an increasingly secular, multicultural nation, New Zealanders should not be forced to give up their freedoms on a religious issue.

Working in the hospitality industry over Easter is a nightmare. In order to consume alcohol on an on-license premise, one is required by law to be dining, eating what is considered a substantial meal.The fine details of the definition of the phrase ‘to dine’ have been outlined by Hospitality New Zealand, but are archaic and ambiguous at best. Hospitality workers have to endure two days of what feels like parenting grown adults over what they must eat in order to drink. In a culture that encourages freedom of speech and religion, why do we not have the freedom to observe a public holiday in a way that is appropriate to the individual, as opposed to one section of society?

A change to this law would not only keep with our multicultural and secular society, but would also be in line with other government initiatives. In 2016, Parliament amended the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 to allow local councils to determine if shop trading hours would be affected by the holiday. This act does not extend to the sale of liquor however, and as such the hospitality industry is forced to suffer apart from other businesses as a whole. It is time for the law to move forward alongside our population, rather than attempt to hold it back to the values of a bygone age.

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