Licensing Laws: A Survey of Public Opinion

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This radio documentary weighs up the arguments for and against reformation of New Zealand's licensing laws, including ending six o'clock closing and trust control of liquor sales.

It consists of studio narration with excerpts from interviews with unidentified people - similar to 'vox pops'. [This production is unusual in that it tackles a contentious topic well-before the advent of an independent broadcasting news and current affairs service.]

First varied opinions on alcohol generally are given by a variety of unidentified New Zealanders including: a Greymouth shop girl, a North Island businessman, a woman from Dunedin, a shop manager of Rotorua, a wine and spirit merchant of Northland. People comment on why we have licensing laws in the first place.

A referendum nine years ago [1949] came out strongly in favour of retaining six o'clock closing but a lawyer says views on the law have changed and it is now being widely disregarded by a large section of the community. An octogenarian from Christchurch agrees.

Should hotels be open in the evenings? A woman says no as men would not come home to their wives and children. An Anglican clergyman says the men come home drunk anyway, and an Auckland journalist says it is ridiculous that drinking hours are roughly the same as working hours. A Dunedin waterside worker says the average worker who wants a drink would enjoy it more if they didn't have to rush. A West Coast miner says shift workers cannot drink at all if their shift finishes after 6pm. The effect of early closing on country workers and tourists is commented on.

Two men comment that women would be threatened by hotels being open in the evenings - and 'gigolos and playboys' would be encouraged. A woman agrees, saying liquor 'makes beasts' of men.

Some people think hotels should close at 6pm but re-open later in the evening. Unofficially, it has been quite common for West Coast hotels to open later. A West Coast man comments that drinking on the Coast was more in the English-style, and men would take their wives to hotels later in the evening.

A former Auckland policeman recalls what it was like before 1917 when six o'clock closing was introduced: trams and trains had to have police escorts.

Some people comment on the need for drinking conditions to be changed - wives and families should be welcomed, hotels upgraded, and an Englishman compares New Zealand bars unfavourably to an English pub.

Several people comment that current licensing laws have meant there are very few suburban hotels and the social side of having a 'local' within walking distance of your home, has not developed as it has in other countries.

The question of whether restaurants should be licensed is canvassed, with opinions both for and against. A man says many restaurants are currently serving liquor [illegally] with no ill-effects and a clergyman agrees that drinking with food is preferable to the 'swill'. The benefits to the New Zealand wine industry are mentioned.

Trust control, with hotels owned and run by local licensing trusts or the state, is surveyed also.

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Year 1958

Reference number 37548

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits New Zealand Broadcasting Service (estab. 1946, closed 1962), Broadcaster

Duration 00:28:53

Date 20 Aug 1958