NZ Herald

NZ Prime Minister changes liquor laws for Rugby World Cup

THE New Zealand Government will urgently change liquor laws to allow pubs to stay open for early morning Rugby World Cup games, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

Mr Key said this morning he had spoken with Justice Minister Amy Adams about drafting a bill which would allow all bars to open outside of normal hours for some of the tournament's matches.

He said the bill would have a short consultation period to allow the changes to take place before the World Cup kicks off on September 18.

The Government decided to step in after a bid by the Act Party to keep bars open was shot down in Parliament yesterday.

The Green Party refused to grant leave for the bill to be debated, saying it was a publicity stunt.

While Act's failed bill would have allowed pubs to open for all of the World Cup matches, the Government's bill was likely to apply just to All Black games and the knockout rounds.

Most All Black games at the World Cup in Britain are outside the maximum default hours of 8am to 4am.

Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague said yesterday that the Act bill was too broad and it would be better if the Government developed its own legislation.

He said the existing law - which came into force just 18 months ago - already allowed bars to get special licences to open outside normal hours.

"There is the opportunity for premises to have licences, but not every licensed premises will be appropriate to be serving alcohol at that time of day."

Mr Key acknowledged that pubs could already apply for special licenses, and he said many had done this during the Football World Cup last year.

"The problem is you've got so many bars that want to do this from one end of the country to the other that that's putting a hell of a lot of costs and regulation and time for these publicans," he told the Paul Henry Show.

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