The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

ACT calls for bureaucratic harassment of Wellington bar owners to stop

ACT Small Business spokesperson Laura Trask says the tactics deployed by public officials against bars in Wellington is akin to harassment, and needs to stop.

Trask says the case of Saint Diablo, a Courtenay Place bar that was forced to spend months and tens of thousands of dollars fighting for the right to open, suggests there is a destructive anti-business mindset in the capital.

“Health NZ budgeted $50,000 and spent $22,000 opposing the bar’s application to open,” she says.

“They claimed there were already close to 200 bars in the area, but The Post today reveals this figure was inflated with dozens of phantom venues.

“Meanwhile, the bar owner himself spent $20,000 defending his application. His delayed opening meant he was left paying rent without any revenue.”

Trask says officials are are too focused on the negative.

“Bars don’t just sell alcohol – they offer food, entertainment, employment, and social spaces where people can share ideas and form friendships,” she says.

“Cost and delay can turn a profitable enterprise into a failure, and all the risk is borne by the business owner.”

Trask says instead of scapegoating hospitality operators for social problems, officials should be making their lives easier.

“We are all made better off by the doers – those who face down the stress, sweat, and risk involved in opening and running a business.

“Health NZ and Police need to shift resources away from regulatory harassment and instead focus on positive initiatives to address alcohol harm and keep our cities safe.”

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