Concert booze sales under microscope

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Regular summer fixture: Gibbston Valley Winery's concert PICTURE: RIVERLEA PHOTOGRAPHY

The organiser of Gibbston’s summer concert is fighting for concert patrons to be permitted to buy more than five times the amount of alcohol listed in a national guideline for events.

At a licensing hearing yesterday, agency reps said allowing the purchase of almost 12 alcohol units at once encourages excessive consumption and selling unopened cans poses a risk of people stockpiling alcohol.

But concert organiser Dean Calvert strenuously disagrees, saying there were minimal incidents at this year’s concert attended by more than 15,000 people.

Greenstone Entertainment Ltd Partnership’s application for a special licence – for its sold-out January 21 event, featuring Icehouse, Alan Parsons Live Project and Bonnie Tyler – has been opposed by police, Public Health South and Queenstown’s council.

Queenstown’s district licensing committee was told yesterday the national guidelines for such events was two standard drinks in a single transaction.

Gibbston concert-goers were able to buy four cans of beer or cider and one 750ml bottle of wine in a single transaction. The sale of unopened cans of beer and cider stopped at 2.30pm.

Public Health South medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell had no idea there were almost 12 standard drinks being bought at a time at last summer’s event and believes it would set a precedent if the committee allowed it to continue.

”This is a significant deviation from [the guidelines and previous decisions]. I would say there is significant alcohol-related harm associated with that sort of consumption level.”

Calvert, who says the national guidelines are not prescriptive, says a total of 6046 750ml bottles of wine were sold at this year’s concert along with 35,964 cans of cider and beer.

He did not believe there were issues with stockpiling, arguing selling alcohol in open cans from 10.30am would likely do more to encourage intoxication than the alternative.

Otago Daily Times