New Zealand's local alcohol policies 'too restrictive' - NZ Initiative

A "Night Mayor" is tipped as one way to revitalise lacklustre nightlife in some of our biggest cities.

And no, we're not talking about a bad dream - but an elected official to improve the social and economic benefits of a shrinking industry.

But that industry still brings in about $2 billion every year.

In some cities, there's no chance of entering a pub or club after 1am.

The New Zealand Initiative, which conducts independent research of policies, insists local alcohol policies are too restrictive - instead of enhancing vibrant and safe nightlife.

"Some people are afraid that someone somewhere in New Zealand might have fun," spokesman Oliver Hartwich said.

"Closing times have little to do with alcohol-related harm. Just because you're closing earlier, it doesn't mean you're solving the problem."

A new paper suggests incentivising new visions for nightlife; tackling alcohol consumption as a health issue, and appointing "Night Mayors".

The nocturnal officials may sound bizarre, but it has worked overseas - Amsterdam appointed its own in 2003.

"Alcohol-related violence is definitely connected to the night-time economy," former Amsterdam Night Mayor Mirik Milan said. "We managed to get that down by 25 percent, and new reports show since we got that down by 30 percent."

It's hoped this kind of initiative will create a more profitable scene - some in the industry say it's sorely needed.

"It's made more difficult by over-regulation; the inability to trade longer," said Jeremy Smith of Hospitality NZ. "It's not an easy industry to be in. 

"You'd be quite surprised how many bar owners who earn less than minimum wage."

Police wouldn't comment on the suggestions made by the New Zealand Initiative, but say they are open to discussion with local councils, to ensure people are drinking in a safe environment.

But for now, it's "sorry no entry" for any changes to local alcohol policy.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: