At the risk of appearing contrarian the Council’s decision to pull its proposed liquor policy seems to us this morning to be flipping the bird at democracy.
The draft policy which would have closed suburban bars before midnight was intensely unpopular and over the weekend John Banks and Aaron Bhatnagar abandoned it in the face of that opposition.This morning on Radio NZ Banks says he told council officers he would not support any change that were unworkable, yet he voted for the changes last month. Did he not read the draft policy or is he just covering his own arse on national radio?
I’m in the strange position of supporting Bank’s move, but annoyed at the waste of time. And while opponents of the policy will be happy, those who supported and particularly those who have already made their submissions will not. Gerard Vaughan the CE of the Alcohol Advisory Council is, I’m sure, irritated that his organisation’s right to argue for the policy to stand has been denied. Democracy means having to listen to everyone, even if they are (at least in my opinion) wrong. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
So what does Banks and Bhatnagar’s (who’s all over the paper this morning) move tell us? It tells us this is a council who will do as it likes and pull the plug on public consultation when it sees fit. Yes, the reversal is welcome and in the end a good thing (an 11 o’clock swill would have been the ultimate result) but it never should have got this far.