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The Government can still change the Alcohol Reform Bill to address harm caused by long trading hours of alcohol retailers, the New Zealand Drug Foundation said today.

“Before the Bill goes back before Parliament Minister Collins should table amendments to restrict the default hours alcohol retailers can operate,” said Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell.

“Incidences of drink-driving, assaults, A&E presentations, Police call outs, and injuries are likely to be reduced if we took a sensible approach to trading hours.

Mr Bell said that international research shows there is a relationship between hours of sale of alcohol and alcohol-related harm.

“It is clear that there is an increase in alcohol-harm when hours are increased and a decrease in alcohol-harm when hours are reduced,” said Mr Bell.

“The Bill, as it stands, allows off-licenses to operate from 7 am to 11 pm and 8am to 4am for on licenses.

Mr Bell said there was no need for liquor stores or bars to be open early in the morning before parents had even dropped their kids off at school.

“There only three hours out of every 24 when you cannot buy alcohol,” said Mr Bell.

“We would like the Bill to reflect the trading hours recommend by the Law Commission — 9 am to 10 pm for off-licenses and 9 am to 4 am for on-licenses — and make a one-way door policy compulsory rather than voluntary.

“This approach would reduce the number of hours a day alcohol is available for sale while remaining flexible. It would also stagger out the time when people are leaving bars meaning police did not have to deal with a flood of drunk people hitting the streets.”

Last week Police Auckland Area Commander Inspector Andrew Coster said extended trading hours had created a challenge for the police and that restricting the hours would reduce disorder and low-level violence.

“We ask Minister Collins to listen to the advice from the Police and take a sensible approach to alcohol trading hours,” said Mr Bell.

The Alcohol Reform Bill is currently waiting its final debate in Parliament which Minister Collins says will take place in mid-June.

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