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Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

Awash with alcohol and lies in the Internet Age

3 August 2015 3 comments

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Kilbirnie Pak 'n Save in booze ban after selling to pair of 16-year-olds

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Our country has been described as “awash by alcohol” by more than one observer. In New Zealand, buying alcohol is easier than buying a car fuse at a petrol station. (I know this, I’ve tried.)

On Tuesday 29 July, I noticed the following signage at Kilbirnie’s busy Pak’N’Save supermarket;

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20150728_113215

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Indeed, the entire liquor section at the supermarket – a not inconsiderable area of the complex – had been blockaded by a Great Wall of Loopaper,  chippies, sugary soft-drinks, and other highly-processed, salted snack-foods;

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Perhaps what really caught my attention was the wording of the yellow signage, at regular intervals adorning the Great Wall;

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20150728_160758

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Liquor products are currently unavailable.

Liquor products are currently unavailable due

to an issue with our liquor license. This will be

resolved by Thursday  30th July.

We would like to apologise for the inconvenience

this issue has caused and we appreciate your

understanding.

Pak N Save

Kilbirnie

 

Really?

Breaking the law and selling liquor to sixteen year olds is defined as an “issue” by Pak N Save’s management?

The term “issue” has supplanted the previous terms that might also be applicable in this case; “problem”; “stuff-up”; or simply, “breaking the terms of our liquor license by illegally selling to young people under 18”.

Any one of those terms would be more honest than a hazy veil of euphemism, referring to losing a liquor license for five days as an “issue”.

Forgetting to reapply for a liquor license might be deemed an “issue”. Selling to under-age kids is a major screw-up. (Also somewhat illegal.)

I wonder if the supermarket’s owner would be as forgiving of a shoplifter caught with a dozen Whittaker’s chocolate bars (Whittakers being better quality than Cadbury, any day) down her blouse, casually apologising for the “issue” of not paying for the goods?

There seems to be a casual – almost dishonest manner – by which the supermarket has presented their transgression to the public. As if National had loaned Pak N Save a couple of their spin-doctors, to minimise any public disapproval of the “issue”.

Our government has the very best of spin-doctors, and we are daily mis-informed; distracted; deflected; and outright lied to by Ministers who have been caught engaged in questionable activities.

John Key’s assertion that a prisoner at Mt Eden Prison “fell” of the balcony, rather than being pushed by fellow in-mates, was his version of Pak N Save’s “issue” with their liquor license;

“One of the claims that had been made, I think, was that someone had been thrown off a balcony – in fact, actually, Serco say that the person jumped off the balcony, or tripped, or fell.”

It is ironic that in the Age of the Internet; of near instantaneous communication and super highways of information, that we have more misinformation; half-truths; “spin”;  and sheer lies thrown at us than ever before.

It is not just alcohol we are awash with – it’s lies.

In the case of politics, the irony is that we, the tax-payer, pay spin-doctors to help government ministers, to lie to us.

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References

Fairfax media: Kilbirnie Pak ‘n Save in booze ban after selling to pair of 16-year-olds

Fairfax media: Corrections Minister looking at options for Serco-run prisons after allegations of ill-treatment

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key's credibility takes a hit

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2015.

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Letter to the Editor: When Key and Collins can’t get their stories straight

30 April 2014 10 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879.

It seems that the Nats can’t get their official party line straight…

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Alcohol tobacco pricing

 

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Which elicited this response from me…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:53:28 +1200
TO:     "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz>

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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National Minister, Judith Collins, recently stated that "the
Government will not be introducing minimum pricing on
alcohol as this would hit moderate drinkers in the pocket
when there is no compelling evidence that increasing the
price of alcohol is the correct approach" (24 April).

This breath-taking piece of sophistry  flies in the face of
policies set by successive governments to reduce tobacco-use
by gradually increasing price. 

The gradual fall in tobacco use has been directly attributed
to increased pricing, as John Key himself stated on 2
February 2010, on TV3;

"The academic evidence shows that the most effective way to
stop people smoking is [to] raise the price and that's
because  as it gets more expensive, particularly young
people can't afford it, [and] eventually people actually
stop." 

The only conclusion that one can draw from this blatant
contradiction is that the liquor industry has had it's way
with National with secret lobbying, and public health
interests have been side-lined.

More than one person has made the point that National will
be banning "synthetic highs" - which has killed no one -
whilst alcohol, responsible for many deaths, injuries, 
community harm,  and billions in ACC claims and lost
productivity - is being ignored.

People may reflect on National's double standards on
election day on 20 September.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number provided]

 

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Hypocrisy. Sophistry. Double standards. Call it what you will – but it is breath-taking nevertheless.

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References

Judith Collins: Government not introducing minimum pricing on alcohol

TV3: Key – Most smokers want proposed price hikes


 

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National out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Booze-ups, brain-fades, and bullying

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Apology over MP's flare-up in restaurant

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Apology over MP’s flare-up in restaurant

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Hmmm, another brain-fade from a National MP?

As if a bit of booze-fuelled bullying wasn’t enough, Mr Gilmore seems to have been afflicted with the Key Brainfade Syndrome. If I was the Diplomatic Protection Squad, I’d be checking the water-jugs in National’s caucus room. There must be  something in their water-suppy.

I shared my views with Fairfax’s The Press, in Christchurch,

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     The Press <letters@press.co.nz>
date:     Thu, May 2, 2013 at 12:21 PM
subject:     Letter to The Editor

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The Editor
THE PRESS
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Aaron Gilmore’s booze-fueled bullying and subsequent brainfade at a Hanmer Springs hotel  is typical  National’s attitude  toward working people.

It’s not surprising Gilmore acted so atrociously – National’s culture of anti-worker disdain has been evident since 2008.

Current plans to undermine collective agreements by allowing employers to negotiate in bad faith, then walk away, is pure National policy. Returning to youth rates (which only displaces older workers) is another example.

None of this will increase wages, or create new jobs, as John Key promised;

“We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key,  8 February 2011

As Bill English admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, National welcomes falling wages;

Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.” – 10 April 2011

Gilmore may’ve apologised for his crude behaviour, but National continues to bully and  abuse workers through it’s pro Big Business policies. Time for  Key to apologise and abandon it’s rightwing agenda.

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-Frank Macskasy

(phone number & address supplied)

Note to Mr Gilmore:  don’t ever call yourself a “man of the people”.

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Additional

Facebook: Helen Kelly – Discussion Thread

References

TVNZ: Q+A – Guyon Espiner interviews Bill English – transcript

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Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlooks

9 January 2013 3 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlook for 2013

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What are we manufacturing today

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We need businesses producing high-value products for overseas markets and businesses using R&D to develop those products which drives other benefits, like better production processes and marketing.  Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy.

We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Our world-leading dairy industry also owes much of its success to innovation.” – Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

See: EDANZ National Economic Development Forum – Speech Notes

It’s a funny old world we live in…

Sunrise Industries…

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Central Auckland super brothel approved

Full story

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tobacco-deal-creates-50-jobs-in-petone

Full story

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skycity-deal-puts-laws-up-for-sale

Full story

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Another liquor outlet set to open

Full story

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Sex, gambling, tobacco, alcohol – the new profitable industries of the 1st century? We seem to have left out other “growth” industries, the modern sex-slave trade in women and children, and arms manufacturing.

Oh. Wait. Maybe not,

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Govt funds still invested in cluster bomb makers

Full story

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Oh well, National and it’s  free-market fellow-travellers will be delirious with joy. If there’s a buck to be made from vices and weapons, they’ll be happy as a pig in mud.

Now if only they can find the price of a soul, and a market for it…

And the Sun sets on…

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Sounds silenced by $20m debt

Full story

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Borders, Whitcoulls under administration

Full story

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Real Groovy Wellington to close

Full story

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Closing chapter for fine arts bookshop

Full story

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Bookstore another victim of public sector cuts

Full story

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Marbecks music shop closes down

Full story

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Meanwhile…

Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy. We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

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Rakon cuts full-year profit guidance

Source

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F&P confirms job losses

Full story

Warning as Haier wins all

Full story

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Oh well, one (Tait) out of three still seems a ‘goer’. How long for, I wonder?

Meanwhile, how are our export and related sectors doing?

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Job losses blamed on high NZ dollar - more forecast

Full story

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And the stats back up the ODT story above,

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New Zealand in Profile_2012_economy

Source: New Zealand in Profile: 2012 – Economy

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Not too good it seems.  The red-highlighted sectors all declined from 2006 to 2011.

National’s “hands off” doctrine, in deference of the ‘Invisible Hand of the Market’, is certainly achieving one result; giving advantage to our exporting competitors from other nations. The Nats seem resigned (hellbent?) to more job losses; more exporters going under; more skilled tradespeople leaving for Australia; and a further decline ineconomic growth,

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Job losses inevitable in declining industries, say ministers

Full story

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What the hell!? The export sector is a “declining industry“?!?!

When even National’s allies – the Manufacturers and Exporters Association – are calling for government intervention about the high New Zealand dollar, it really drives home the seriousness of the crisis. An economic crisis that this time had it’s origins on Molesworth Street – not Wall Street.

For National to persist in it’s “hands off”  and obedience to Free Market dogma will have nasty consequences for our economy.

For 2013, expect,

  • unemployment to rise
  • the export sector to worsen
  • growth to remain low, under 1%
  • an early election this coming year, as Dunne and the Maori Party desert the National-led coalition.

It’s easy to predict – we’ve seen it all before.

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

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outlook for 2013

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Why arming our Police is not such a flash idea

27 December 2012 28 comments

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No more anarchy

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When the National Rifle Association’s  Wayne LaPierre suggested that the “solution” to mass shootings in US schools was to arm teachers, the response of  trhose with more common sense was one of  (a) disbelief (b) dismay and (c) disgust. (See previous blogpost: NRA response; more guns. Common sense sez otherwise. )

And rightly so. Escalation of  America’s internal arms race could not be viewed by any sane human being as anything other than compounding the madness that is part and parcel of  their fixation on guns.

New Zealanders generally shook their collective heads at the sheer stupidity of  Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion.

But it seems that we, ourselves, are not above knee-jerk reactions when it comes to crime, drunken mayhem, Police, etc.

As is usual now with the de-regulation of the booze industry and our laws on alcohol (courtesy of the “free market” and the Cult of the Individual), theend-of-year “festive season” now includes a routine plethora of out-of-control parties and public displays of alcohol-fuelled violence.

As if we should be surprised that the easy availability of cheap booze would have any other consequences?

This year was no different, with several instances of Police having to deal with alcohol-fueled fights and other public dis-order.

The intensity of the violence has taken a new turn, with Police themselves coming under direct attack.

One was particularly nasty,

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Attacks on police lead to call for arms

Full story

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In one, big, reflexive jerk of the knee, Police Association vice-president, Luke Shadbolt, repeated the call to routinely arm police,

Increasingly, members are calling for general arming. And we know, amongst the staff … more and more are leaning toward general arming as well.”

See: IBID

Thankfully, though, others in the Police force were able to exercise a modicum of common sense. Whangarei area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips stated the blindingly obvious,

I don’t know what would have happened [if he’d been armed] but firearms are easier to use than Tasers.

See: IBID

That’s right, folks; one of the drunk partygoers had taken the constable’s taser and had tried to use it on the unconscious police officer.

The complexity of the weapon defeated the drunk idiot.

Now replace the taser with a handgun.

Instead of two bruised and battered police officers, we would have at least one – probably two – dead police; grieving families; and two more names to add to a sad list at the Police College of fallen policemen and women,

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Police Remembrance Day 2012 v3

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In this case, the lack of guns probably saved two lives.

Meanwhile, as if we needed to emphasise the point, in 2010 seven American  police officers were killed by their own weapons that had been taken from them. (See:  FBI Releases Preliminary Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in 2010)

We have a problem in this country, but it is not with unarmed Police.

Our problem lies with the ubiquitous availability of dirt-cheap booze; a gutless National “government” that has kowtowed to the liquor industry; and an attitude in this country that alcohol abuse is someone elses’ problem.

Anyone who seriously thinks that giving guns to police will solve this deep malaise in our society has probably had one too many.

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Additional

The Press: New liquor laws ‘dog’s breakfast’ – Dickerson (12 Dec 2012)

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Upper Hutt community concerns at increasing liquor stores

15 August 2012 4 comments

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Upper Hutt is the latest in a series of communities to oppose the growth of liquor outlets and the related problems that they bring to surrounding neighbourhoods.

A public meeting last night (14  August) at the Upper Hutt Baptist Church hall attracted about fifty people – drawn to the meeting by concern at the  spread of liquor outlets in their neighbourhoods..

The meeting was addressed by Andrea Boston, Public Health Advisor, from the Regional Public Health.

Ms Boston began by saying that she would present a “How To Guide” in submitting  public objections against new liquor outlets.

She began first  with a background, citing  similar, recent incidences of communities opposing the spread of liquor outlets . One,  three weeks ago in Trentham, Upper Hutt, resulted in the  community  lodging 70 objections.

Ms Boston referred to opposition to increasuing numbers of bottle stores in Ranui Heights, Porirua,  and Newlands, Wellington. She said,

We’ve been very lucky with the Ranui Heights and the Newlands stores, in that with the large number of objections, the applicant has decided to withdraw their applications. So there are reasons as well  to actually make the applicant  think about  is the right place to put a bottle store, as well as informing the Liquor Licensing Authority and District Licensing Authority around your preferences.”

Ms Boston advised the meeting that Public Notices were usually “tucked away” in Public Notices, which is why they are usually not noticed by the public.

In this instance, the applicant  advertised their notices, as required by law, on 8 August and 15 August in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘,
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Liquor Outlet Public Notice – 8 August 2012

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Liquor Outlet Public Notice – 15 August 2012

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Ms Boston said that  “you’ve actually been quite lucky in this instance that it’s actually come to the attention of others” . People in the community had been alerted by  leafleting surrounding neighbourhoods, to inform others in the community of the planned new liquor store,
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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Upper Hutt liquor stores public meeting 14 august
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She emphasised that it does pay to regularly scan Public Notices in local newspapers, to be kept informed regarding proposed new liquor outlets that may be planned for an area.

Public notifications, said Ms Boston, require to be made only twice. She added that interested parties have only ten working days from the first-placed advertisement, to make an objection to their local District Licensing Authority.

Ms Boston then explained that objectors must have a relevance to the premises and the area, having a “greater interest than the public generally”. She gave examples for objection; eg; of living nearby, such as living within a kilometre of the proposed liquor outlet; or an area with which an objector has a close interest in, such as a small shopping area; nearby school; church; existing social problems with alcohol abuse; or have regular business ties, and other regular activities.

Other factors could include safety-related problems.

Further grounds for objection can also include the vulnerability of communities, such as low-income/poor; large number of unemployed and beneficiaries; and with an abundance of already-existing liquor outlets. Evidence of acohol-related harm such as liquor bottles strewn about, or loud, intoxicated people at night could also be grounds for objection.

Another example on which objections could be lodged is one which she referred to as failure of “Controlled Purchase Operations”. In plain english; if the applicant has previously sold alcohol to a person under 18.

A reason must be stated for an objection, and criteria for objections usually relate to issues such as suitability of the licensee, and the conditions attached to any license such as opening hours.

Copies of applications for a license are kept, and can be viewed, at local Council offices.

In this case, the Public Notice did not specifically state that the applicant’s documents were available for inspection at the Upper Hutt City Council offices, and instead simply  provided a street address;  “838 – 842 Fergusson Dr“.

Ms Boston said that determining the suitability of a licensee might prove difficult, but  that the NZ Companies Business Register (searchable online) could allow a degree of information surrounding who the applicant was. This might take some time to search, to discover if they have been previously struck off as Directors in any other company.

Ms Boston stated that  there have been  recent changes in the way that legislation has been viewed, and we are now starting to get wider recognition of the   “object of the Act”. A wider concern for “significant probability of alcohol-related harm” is now being considered during the objection process. She gave an example of her opposition to a new liquor outlet opening in close proximity to St Pat’s college in Silverstream.

Ms Boston stated in her objection that she was concerned at the harm alcohol caused to young people; damage to nearby property; and public consumption of liquor in nearby secluded areas.

Possible outcomes of objections could suceed in reducing an outlet’s operating hours. Other restrictions such as reduced advertising could also be achieved.

Ms Boston then outlined how an objections should  be made; in writing; addressed to a local District Licensing Authority; and made before the stated deadline. Ms Boston said that if the community wanted to make their voice heard, that they had to participate in the process. She gave as an example a community response in

Cannon’s Creek, led by one particular individual, who brought people together, to oppose a licensee. She said,

It’s great for community“.

Ms Boston then opened the meeting up to questions.

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Andrea Boston, taking questions from the public gathering.

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Q: Does the Authority look at the differences between Off-licenses and On-licenses, because one takes alcohol away and the other, like the Quinn’s Post,  consumes on-premises?

Ms Boston said it’s hard to guess how the Authority would look at differences. She could not offer any advice on that question, although often it depended on location.

Q: How would someone find out if the application had a conviction for selling to under-age persons?

Ms Boston replied that that would be a matter for Police and Public Health to look into.

Q: A member of the public stated he had been assaulted twice by intoxicated youth. He had been accosted by youth asked to buy them cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.  He said that geographically, there was one liquor store every two kilometres.  He believed that Upper Hutt already had sufficient liquor outlets. He asked Ms Boston what happened to the application for an outlet near St Pat’s College?

Ms Boston replied,  that objections could not be based on density alone. However, she did say that in the past liquor licensing used to be “lax” but that there was now a considerable “tightening of the criteria”. So what may have been permissable two or three years ago, might not be acceptable now.

Q: How fast was the application process once the time period for  objections was closed? What was the time table?

The speed at which applications were processed was difficult to determine, and was  dependent on the “load” of existing applications, and backed-up Hearings, Ms Boston replied. She said there was one Liquor Licensing Authority which traveled around the country, to consider all applications. She added that the Authority tends to conduct it’s Hearings in the main centres; Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, etc. Ms Boston added that at times the deliberation process could take one month or six months.

Q: A question was raised regarding the new liquor outlet at Silverstream whether the application was granted because no one attended the Hearing? An audience member said that Silverstream primary school had strenuously opposed the liquor license. As a consequence of the license being granted, and the outlet opening, their school playgrounds were now constantly strewn with empty bottles, cans, and other litter. The audience member said she found it hard to understand why the application was granted with St Pats College directly across the road, and other schools in the vicinity.

Ms Boston admitted she was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the granting of that particular lience. She advised the audience to visit the ALAC website, where licensing decisions were on public record. Each decision to grant a license was explained by the Authority.

See: ALAC

At this point the policeman responsible for liquor licensing for the Hutt Valley, who also attended the public meeting,  said he had been present at the Hearing, and only two objections were submitted to the Authority.

Q: Another audience member asked if their license can be revoked if they were caught selling to under-age customers?

Ms Boston replied that “it would probably take a little more than that to close it down“.

Q: The validity of the applicant, ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ was raised. A member of the audience said he had done a check with the Companies Office, and said that the only company by that name had been struck of. He considered that if a company could not be searched then he questioned the validity of any application. He further asked if the requirements of the law had been complied with.

Ms Boston said that was definitely a matter to be brought up with the Authority.

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An issue raised by an audience member who stated that whilst  this application had been publicised last week in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘,  yet their identity was still unknown as  the name ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ was not on the Companies Office listings.

Later that night, this blogger carried out a search of the Companies Office website, and did indeed find a current listing for  ‘Euphoria Ltd‘.

The company appears to have been registered on 9 August 2012 – one day after the first Public Notice was published in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader’.

See: New Zealand Companies Office: Euphoria Ltd

Which is just as well. It is illegal for a business to present itself as a limited liability company when, in fact, it is not. The member of the public had done his homework – and ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ had just scrapped through.

Q: The next question was directed at the policeman present, and asked if there was any area of concern around this license application?

The policeman replied that Police were always concerned with alcohol-related offending, and that they were obviously in favour of reducing that.

Q: Another member of the public asked which shop was intended to be the liquor outlet, as there were two on the Whakatiki St/Fergusson Drive  intersection that were currently empty.

The correct shop was identified.

Q: Another person immediatly  asked if they had met their legal obligations by placing the required  public notice in the window of the relevant shop. He pointed out he had seen no such public notice.

Another member of the public pointed out that a “public notice” had been placed on the window. But it’s size was such that it’s value  was questionable.

The next day, this blogger visited the shop in question, and took these photographs,
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Can anyone spot the public notice in the photograph below,

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The “public notice” consisted of the same advert placed in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘, and measured barely larger than a Driving License,

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Not exactly helping to keep the public informed, one could say…?

There were further questiions and answers as the public meeting progressed.

The Pastor of the Upper Hutt Baptist Church advised the meeting that he and two other Churches, of separate denomination, were co-ordinating public opposition to this problem and welcomed ongoing community participation.

The Pastor said that this would be an inter-denomination group, and participation from the wider community was welcomed and encouraged.

Toward the end of discussion, Ms Boston stated that this was the community’s opportunity to be proactive. It was important for people to make their voices be heard and not sit on our hands.  She  pointed out that copies of a booklet were available to the public to take away. The booklet gave clear explanations and examples of how to draft and lodge a submission with the Upper Hutt District Licensing Agency.

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Lastly,  a show of hands was requested to indicate how many was opposed to the new liquor outlet, and would be prepared to lodge a submission opposing the proposed outlet. The response, as far as this blogger could determine, was a unanimous ‘forest’  of hands that shot up.  (If anyone dissented, they were invisible in their opposition.)

Those attending, from the community, seemed unequivocal in their views; the public were sick of an endless proliferation of liquor outlets, and the subsequent problems that ensued.

This blogger will also be lodging a submission on this matter.

Though two additionals point needs to be raised here:

1. Public Notices

A “public notice” in a shop window that is barely visible to passers-by is unacceptable. It makes a mockery of the whole process of public involvement.  Government must amend the law on this matter and stipulate a minimum size for a public notice  – or not bother.

If a “public notice” can be marginally larger than a driver’s license, then what is the point of having such a notice?

At the very least, a public notice should be minimally the size of an A3 (two A4 sheets of paper) in size.

2. Period of Lodging an objection

Quite simply, ten working days is far too short. We all lead busy lives and attempting to gather relevant information to draft a sensible submission requires more than just ten days.  That is simply inadequate. Especially when the Licensing Authorities give themselves anywhere from one to six months to consider an application.

This blogger suggests two weeks (14 days, including weekends) as the minimum time required for the public to have meaningful participation in this process.

This country already has a growing, endemic alcohol problem.  Communities  must be given every opportunity to address these problems and to initiate solutions.

Otherwise, the process is patently one-sided, and designed to suit business interests rather than communities. And that is simply unacceptable.

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Previous blogposts

Our ‘inalienable right’ to destroy communities through alcohol abuse.

New Zealand 2011AD: Drunken Mayhem and a nice Family Day Out.

Community Needs vs Business Demands

Just what we need

A kronically inept government

Booze – it’s time for some common sense

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John Key: nyald ki a seggem!!

7 August 2012 2 comments

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What is it about National that senior ministers feel the need to insult other countries?!

In March this year, Gerry Brownlee made abusive comments about Finland – a country with  higher educational achievements than New Zealand; a GDP some US$70 billion greater  than ours; and all achieved with a population only one million more than us.

See: Key steps in after Brownlee crosses Finnish line

Today, our gormless Prime Minister, the man who grins like a witless fool, as he and his Party fail in nearly every respect to grow the economy, has taken a swipe at Hungary,

Hungarians don’t go out at night – they might in Budapest, but not in Afghanistan.”

Dear Leader was referring to his assertion that Hungarian forces do not patrol the Baghlan province, especially  after nightfall.

See: Afghanistan attack: No pressure on Hungary

So saith John Key, the man who has never served in the armed forces.

So saith John Key, who has never served in any Peacekeeping operations abroad, that Kiwi forces have been involved in.

Whilst Key was sitting comfortably at University flirting with pretty female students; thereafter crunched numbers McCulloch Menzies and later  Lane Walker Rudkin;  then became a forex dealer at Elders Finance; and after that shuffled bit of paper  for other  finance conglomerates – other young men and women his age were serving their country in the armed forces.

See: Wikipedia John Key

Key made money, lots of it.

Indeed, when asked by at least one journalist what his views on the 1981 Springbok Tour was, he could not remember.

As he replied to  a reporter’s question,

Oh, I can’t even remember … 1981, I was 20 … ah … I don’t really know. I didn’t really have a strong feeling on it at the time. Look, it’s such a long time ago.”

How the hell does one not recall one of the most defining moments in our recent history? Especially since he was 20 at the time?

In fact, aside from golf and making money (lots of money!), Key appears to have had no involvement whatsoever in any public service for his own country.

See: In search of John Key

So it appears that when John Key went out at night, it  was never in a warzone either.

But Key is right about one thing: it is safe to go out on the streets of Budapest at night. Indeed, a city of 2 million people is safer than downtown Wellington or Auckland, in the early hours of the morning, when Courtney Place and Queen Street are dangerous bashing-grounds for young, drunken, out-of-control men and women.

By contrast, I refer the reader to this description of nightlife in Budapest,

Hungarians, like most Eastern Europeans, like their liquor and hold it well. If you think Saturday afternoon is best spent hanging out with your friends, drinking coffee and trying to piece together what happened Friday night, you’re in the right country. Alcohol is central to many Hungarians’ lives. The only city where people go clubbing is Budapest; elsewhere, the pub is the only option.

Hungarian pubs are pretty grimy by western standards—yellow smoke-stained walls, dirty tablecloths, toilets that don’t always work. The people there are usually very drunk, but Hungarians tend to get either happy or morose when they’re intoxicated and bar fights are rare. Most Continentals take it for granted that they don’t risk a broken nose just for going to a bar, but this can be a refreshing change for English and American imbibers. The Hungarian pub is still a largely male preserve—although seeing women as part of a mixed group is common enough, you just won’t see many women sitting at the bar alone.

Drinks are present at pretty much every social occasion lasting longer than 10 minutes. Hungarians you befriend will give you a drink at any excuse, and if you go to a pub, expect one round after another after another after another… drink slowly if you want to remember anything after midnight. It can be hard to refuse and still seem sociable. Just about every Hungarian drinks, and most can’t understand why somebody wouldn’t. If you’re a man who doesn’t drink, brush up on your soccer trivia and fill your wallet with photos of previous girlfriends before you come here, in case your heterosexuality is ever questioned.

The national liquor is palinka, a brandy that’s somewhere between 60% and 70% alcohol and usually served in a shot glass that’s usually about two ounces. Good palinkas are a real treat to drink, and come in different fruit flavors. The cheap, unflavored ones are barely digestible, and if you have more than three you probably won’t be digesting them anyway. It is not uncommon to walk into a bar or restaurant in the morning and see men from all walks of life taking a drink of the stuff to steel themselves for a day of work.

The second liquor most identified with Hungary is Unicum, which tastes and looks like Jaegermeister. If you’ve never had Jaeger, think cough syrup. If you like it, you’ll like Unicum. Hungarians like to have a shot of Unicum before and/or after a meal. Wine is also quite popular, Hungary produces some nice reds. It’s usually served in a soft drink glass at pubs. Red wine from Villány is generally considered the best, although Tokaji wine is just as well-known and not bad either.

The less said about the local beer, the better. It’s better than Milwaukee’s Best, maybe even better than Miller and Budweiser. But what European beer isn’t? Czech beers are commonly available, and are your best bet. Pilsner Urquell (first pilsner ever) and Budwar (Budweiser’s more flavorful ancestor) are the most common.

As for domestics, Dreher is head and shoulders above the rest. Hungarians don’t usually toast when they’re drinking beer. Supposedly this is because in 1848, when 13 generals fighting for Hungarian independence were executed by the Austrians, the Austrian soldiers clinked their beer glasses together as each one was dropped off the gallows.

You can buy beer, wine and liquor at any place where you can buy food—grocery stores, corner stores, gas stations, wherever. Supposedly there’s a drinking age, but as long as you can see over the counter or bar you won’t be carded. Pubs usually close around midnight, although you can usually find a handful that are open a couple hours later. These are more common in Budapest, of course.

There’s an open container law, but unless you’re starting fights or run into a cop whose wife just left him, you can walk down the street gulping palinka right out of the bottle without any problems. Either you or the cop really have to be an asshole to get hassled for drinking in public; just being drunk and a bit loud won’t get you noticed.

Hungary has a huge problem with alcoholism. Most pubs are bustling by 8:30 in the morning. If you don’t want to drink, tell people you’re a recovering alcoholic. They’ll understand.

See: Drink and Drugs in Hungary

This blogger has experience in Hungarian culture, and the writer of the piece above is fairly correct. As they write,

You can buy beer, wine and liquor at any place where you can buy food—grocery stores, corner stores, gas stations, wherever.

In fact, the first time I ever went to Hungary, I was stunned at how widespread the availability of alcohol was.

Yet, I never once saw any display of public drunkeness, nor alcohol-fuelled fights, nor the kind of wanton vandalism, public urination, vomitting, that is now commonplace in our cities after dark.

Nor does Key seem to have any inclination to deal with this country’s out-of-control alcohol abuse that renders Courtney Place and Queen Streets no-go areas after midnight.

At first, Key stated that there was public  “no appetite” to raise taxes on alcohol to curb excessive consumption in this country.

See: Failure of nerve on liquor law

Key  ruled out raising the price on alcohol to address alcohol abuse, saying it was  ineffectual.

Yet that is precisely the mechanism by which successive governments  reduced demand for cigarettes: raising taxes.

Key misled the public in December, last year,  when he claimed  there was  “no appetite” from the public to raise prices on alcohol. A survey conducted by the Health Sponsorship Council revealed that,

“…  56% of people are behind an increase in the price of cheap alcohol, including 26% strongly backing the idea. It also found solid backing for a reduction in the hours alcohol may be sold, with 28% strongly behind the idea and a further 37 % supporting it.”

See: Dunne in gun over survey backing booze crackdown

What is the point of this blogpost, you may ask?

It’s fairly evident. John Key is the man who has never served in the military – nor in any other community organisation. And yet he has the temerity to complain about what other military servicemen may or may not be doing? When he puts his own neck on the line, or contributes something constructive to society – then we might start to take him seriously.

Until then, he is a suit with a big bank account; a desire to be admired by the public; but  precious little more.

As for referring about the safety of other cities at night – that is indeed a valid issue.  On that matter, John Key has a lot to learn from Hungarians – especially how to hold their liquor, and not end up in drunken brawls, where footpaths are covered in blood and vomit, and shopkeepers have to hose urine,    excrement, and more vomit,  from their doorways.

You won’t see these headlines in any newspaper in Hungary,

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Child alcohol abuse up nearly 20pc

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Tough line on alcohol abuse most welcome

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Teens ‘so drunk they could die’

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Ambulance base for Wellington party central

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Drunk kids flooding our hospitals

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RTDs linked to crime, crashes

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Abusive drunks make doctor feel like giving up

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Hawke’s Bay races ‘drunken mayhem’

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Booze retailers ‘put profits ahead of community

wellbeing’

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Wellington’s DHB calls for community hard line on

alcohol

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Man goes on drunken rampage in hospital carpark

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Alcohol abuse seen as a big NZ problem

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So if John Key has a problem with Hungarians; their servicemen and women; the capital city of Budapest, and how safe it may be at night – he should keep it to himself.

Not until he and his Party start to address  serious problems surrounding our own growing crisis of alcohol abuse – instead of tinkering with the law –  should he open his big mouth.

And if he wants to tell  Hungarian soldiers how to fight the Taliban, I encourage him to get of his ministerial chair; go to Afghanistan; and show them how it’s done.

Armchair warriors like him deserve only contempt.

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Addition

Hungarians hurt by ‘snide’ Key dig at troops

Wikipedia: Finland

Wikipedia: New Zealand

OECD PISA Education rankings

Review of Regulatory Framework for the Sale and Supply of Liquor

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