Bottoms up? Thumbs down, say doctors

Parliament has voted in favour of a Bill that allows bars to stay open for matches played outside normal opening hours (file)
Parliament has voted in favour of a Bill that allows bars to stay open for matches played outside normal opening hours (file)

Rugby World Cup fans will be able to watch all 48 games from the comfort of their local pub – but not everyone's drinking to that.

Parliament has voted in favour of a Bill that allows bars to stay open for matches played outside normal opening hours. MPs voted 99-21 to pass ACT leader David Seymour's Bill after its final stages were fast-tracked yesterday. It's a move that looks set to keep bar patrons happy.

"They've got to stay open all night," one bar-goer told 3 News.

"People want to drink after the game and have a fun night, because it's a big celebration," said another.

But the schedule means in some cases, pubs could be free to stay open for almost 70 hours straight, sparking stern opposition from the Green Party, which had pushed for more restrictions.

MP Kevin Hague called it "a bad and unnecessary law, and terrible lawmaking".

Bars wanting to open need to give police seven days' notice, courtyards must remain closed and outdoor speakers are banned.

New Zealand Medical Association chairman Stephen Child said on the Paul Henry programme this morning his organisation isn't against personal choice, but it's the taxpayer who'll be picking up the tab for the social consequences.

"The evidence clearly shows – and we saw that at the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand – that on the night of the games, emergency departments swell, paramedics and emergency ambulances are busy, domestic abuse increases, child abuse increases, accidents. It's a significant impact on our society by these individual choices."

He says pubs can already serve alcohol until 3am, which is late enough – though most games will be screening here a couple of hours later.

"Why do we have to be at the peak of our buzz when our athletes are at the peak of their game?"

If people want to drink alcohol while the game's on, Dr Child says people should do it at home, away from the public.

"You have access to a liquor outlet, you can drink at home, you can watch the game. Why do we have to have a licensed bar open at five o'clock in the morning? The television's free to view."

In addition to the Greens, the Maori Party and six Labour MPs voted against the Bill.

The Prime Minister had earlier suggested the relaxed laws might only apply to All Blacks games and the finals.

3 News

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