Recent comments from police and social workers have raised concerns about the numerous side effects, trauma and costs accompanying alcohol use. The Mayor also stated the GDC has a part to play as the licensing authority.
Alcohol is not like other products — many of us enjoy it, however many in the community are very badly affected by other people’s consumption. Violence, road crashes, lost work, damage to property, grieving families, pressure on the health sector and budgeting woes all spill over to the rest of society.
These are the social costs, yet we share little of the profits.
Two ideas that I believe deserve consideration are GDC becoming involved in the hospitality industry, and minimum pricing (but that is a central government issue).
The model I am proposing is for GDC to become the main licence holder. It works in West Auckland and it definitely works in Southland, where Invercargill City distributes $10 million annually towards tertiary fees, hospices, a velodrome with international events and many other charities, facilities and events.
I am not proposing that GDC shuts down private booze businesses — these people work, provide jobs and pay taxes. The fairest way would be a sinking lid policy, as alcohol shops and bars close, new licences are held by a community trust which distributes the profits to community groups.
In times of government downsizing I am not advocating a new department within the council to run bars — an olde bar called Craig’s Place showing the golf channel would be popular with me and a councillor but it would fail commercially.
Rather joint ventures with savvy hospitality veterans in a profit share set-up. We wouldn’t get to $10m quickly but we might get to $1m. Imagine the positive side-effects of cheap fees at EIT, less fundraising grind for sports teams, an indoor pool, a waka ama facility, a better funded refuge and hospice. All funded from us raising a glass.