Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Queenstown Liquor Ban Is Lazy Law, Lazier Policing

Just writing about Queenstown food choices in my (Not Quite) Complete Guide to New Zealand Travel and I suggested that a great meal - and a cheap one at that - is to get a seafood basket from Aggys Shack on the lake front, grab a bottle of local wine and a couple of plastic glasses and sit down at the lake edge to enjoy fine dining with a million dollar view.

Then the hand of the Dark Lords at Lakes District Council cast a shadow over the idea.

There's a 24-hour liquor ban in downtown Queenstown between Dec 27 and Jan 6 and during festival week. So dining al fresco con vino is a no-no during these most popular dates.


This sounds for all the world like a classic autocratic authority response to a problem that doesn't, or at the very least, shouldn't, exist.

The usual approach by authorities in this situation is to take a rock-breaker to a problem the size of a pebble.

First question: Does the problem really exist? Are visitors to the town so drunk and disorderly during the daylight and early evening hours that the local constabulary can't deal with them? I have no problem with a ban between 10pm and 6am at certain times of the year (does it really need to be year-round) but, really, is there widespread, uncontrollable agro on the streets during the day??

Second Question: If there is hooliganism abroad on the streets, why not deal with that problem directly instead of punishing everybody?

Catch and release. Round up the drunks, leave them to contemplate the grim bare walls of a jail cell over night and release them in the morning, thus leaving the law-abiding citizenry free to enjoy the finest fruits of ocean and vine amid the splendour of the Wakatipu landscape.

The present rules are lazy law and even lazier policing.


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