It's not as bad as it could have been.
- Excise tax increases have been ruled out, but minimum price regulation hasn't been. It would be interesting to see to which margin competition moves under that regime. In the first instance there will be rents for folks making low-end product, but rents like that can't last. If a product costs $5 to produce but faces a minimum price of $10, something's gotta give. Some of the worst quality product would be pushed off the market, leaving the stuff that actually costs more to produce. But there'll be some folks who are fairly indifferent on the quality side in that range. Does low-end product then get bundled with other ancillaries?
On the demand side, I'd expect this to be the kind of rule that would start seriously pushing folks into home distillation. If the price floor is set too far above current equilibrium. It would also be interesting to test the effects of this kind of rule on different qualities of alcohol. Low range, undrinkable, beer costs about $1/bottle (330 mL). Bottom of my drinkable range is about $2/bottle. Good beer starts around $4/bottle. Do folks start pushing farther up the quality spectrum when good beer becomes relatively less expensive, or do income effects dominate?
- There likely won't be a blanket increase in the purchase age, but 18-19 year olds may be unable to buy alcohol except at bars. Congratulations to HANZ for that one, I suppose. This is, of course, almost useless as it remains legal for 18-19 year olds to possess alcohol. I'd seen somebody call this an excise tax applied to 18-19 year olds who'll have to pay a small premium when off-licence; that seems about right.
Do note this, though:
119. EitherI'd love to see Treasury's notes. I'll have to make the request, I suppose.
a) Agree that the alcohol purchase age be set at 18 years for on-licence sale and supply and 20 years for off-licence sale and supply;
OR [supported by the Treasury]
b) Invite the Minister of Justice to report back to Cabinet with quantified analysis of the costs and benefits of the different options for changes to purchase age;
- They broaden the objective of alcohol legislation:
Agree that the objective of sale of alcohol legislation be broadened from a focus on reducing alcohol abuse to a focus on minimising alcohol-related harm, including crime, disorder and public health problems;Power notes elsewhere in the document the intention to curb harms while protecting the enjoyment of moderate drinkers. I wish that some note of such benefits were made explicit in the objective statement here. The marginal harm avoided by a tightening of legislation ought be no greater than the marginal harm imposed on moderate drinkers.
- A default national bar closing time, around which localities can set different rules. A few folks have worried about local wowsers running wild - not an unreasonable concern. I'm not sure this gives them powers they didn't already have though, and I like that locales can also adopt more liberal policies if they want. But again note that there's an option B, supported by Treasury, asking the Minister to report back with costs and benefits of various proposals.
- Regulatory takings. A bunch of folks running small shoppes that sell alcohol are going to have a hard time getting their liquor licences renewed under the new legislation.
45. Agree that no compensation will be payable for licensees who are not eligible to have their current off-licence renewed under the proposed criteria;There are a lot of immigrant families whose businesses will be destroyed by this legislation.
- They make provision for the Minister of Justice to ban particular alcoholic products or classes of products deemed particularly unhealthy or harmful. I'm guessing this is pointed at RTDs mixing alcohol and caffeine or other energy drinks. RTDs are subject to other rules mandating maximum alcohol content. I remain confused about the worries about RTDs. The production technology isn't exactly all that difficult. Get a bottle of spirits, get a bottle of mix, pour....