Keith Locke on the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill – In committee stage



Following on from David Parker’s speech, I think the question of liquor licences and the containers used for liquor is very important. I was present at the rugby league test between New Zealand and Australia on Saturday night, so I have a very good on-the-spot experience of what went on. Thankfully I bought a $5 programme prior to the event, so I could put it over my head to protect myself from any falling missiles. I read that for the Rugby World Cup itself, Heineken will be one of the official sponsors, and Heineken is demanding that there be cans of beer for sale, no doubt because it wants to advertise its products. What is happening is that we are being driven by multinational sponsors to sell the beer in cans, because the sponsors demand that in return for their sponsorship and the millions or whatever it may be they are paying for it, even though it will potentially injure people at those games, and we will lose control over the situation. It is a bit like the old


furore, when we were driven by Warner Bros; now we are being driven by Heineken. The cans will, no doubt, be even more dangerous than the plastic bottles were last Saturday night, particularly if the cans still have a bit of beer left in them. That is one of the problems with this bill as a whole, and with this particular part: the power given to the Minister is a bit like the power given to John Key to negotiate with Warner Bros. The decision will come out on the side of the stronger party, which will be the multinational company, backed up by the International Rugby Board and all of its official sponsors. We will have to have cans, even if there is a risk of injury. I agree totally with what David Parker said about why we can’t serve the liquor in paper cups or whatever. We will never overcome completely the problem of drunkenness. When I was walking to the game on Saturday night, every bar in the Mount Eden area was packed to the gunnels with people tanking themselves up prior to the game. We cannot really control that fact, so there will be drunken people at the game, and we will have to handle it the best we can. The other thing David Parker mentioned was the booing that went on. I put primary responsibility for that—and I have been along to watch Warriors games at Mount Smart Stadium—on the organisers of those contests. The thing I notice at rugby league games, as compared with some other codes, is the great partisanship of the person on the loudspeaker, the MC, who is rarking people up to support the Warriors and, in effect, encouraging people to boo the team playing the Warriors, and that behaviour carries over to the tests. Responsibility is not on “rugby league louts”; the responsibility is on the people who organise the loudspeaker system at Mount Smart Stadium. Really what happened on Saturday night was more an issue of crowd behaviour. The first Mexican wave went round and a few people threw plastic bottles in the air; then the more it went round the more people understood that that was the thing to do, and threw things up in the air, wrongly, not taking into account the danger to people. It should not be seen completely out of proportion. It can be controlled with proper control of the loudspeaker system, and that was lacking in the first two or three Mexican waves last Saturday night as well. If the people running the show had intervened on the loudspeaker to tell people to calm down, and that Mexican waves were all right but people should not throw their stuff in the air, that could have controlled it, as it was controlled at a later point by interventions on the loudspeakers. It is important to not give the powers to Ministers, particularly the Minister concerned, because the Rugby World Cup will be driven by multinational sponsors at the expense of the safety of the people participating. Thanks.