This month’s Kapiti council meeting ended with a close vote on the administration relating to NZ’s original ‘moral issue’ –alcohol, or booze to put it politely.
As Jeremy Smith reports, this is, of course, the particularly human activity that gave us such expressions as “wowser” and “ to go on the wagon.”
( And in just 10 months New Zealanders will vote in a referendum on two so other ‘moral issues’ — the end-of-life bill and some sort of marijuana legalisation. If either goes through, the administration of the acts will cause widespread debate)
Ther KāpitiCouncillors were being asked to approve what seemed a straight-forward proposal to authorise the CEO to appoint the chair and deputy chair of the District Licensing Committee.
These are the people who say yes, or no, to new or renewed applications for alcohol outlet licenses including the fitness of people associated with them.
The current chair is former Kapiti District councillor Fiona Vining who is in place until someone new is appointed.
The other six Licensing Commissioners are non-councillors.
The motion proposed deputy mayor Janet Holborow as the Committee’s deputy chair, and a process to appoint a new chair: a three-person selection panel comprising mayor Gurunathan and two council staffers who would interview applicants.
Key question from Cr Randall
Suddenly it became much less straight forward when Councillor Bernie Randall wanted to know why the Licensing Committee chair could not be a councillor.
The reply: this was best practice and that District Licensing Commissions have some aspects of a Commission of Inquiry.
This did not seem to sit well with Mr Randall and some other councillors who wanted to know more about what ‘best practice’ meant.
Councillor Jackie Elliott also noted she had done training to become eligible as a Licensing Commissioner, training which would be wasted if it was never used.
The councillors then decided by a one-vote majority to send the proposal back for more discussion.
And finally a question with no answers yet: could district licensing committees could be the place where public questions about who can use (legalised) marijuana are played out at local level?
And could the Commissioners be the people who decided on the difference between recreational dope users and out-and-out stoners?