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RE: [Distillers] change in attitude toward home distilling ie new republic

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  • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
    ... Ray Toms gave his view in msg 453 ... which I l copy below, along with Des Zines comments from msg 455 ***************************** From: Ray Toms
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2002
      >Can any of the Kiwis here tell me/any other interested parties what
      >prompted the NZ Govt. to legalise home distillation? I was
      >living in Oz when it happened

      Ray Toms gave his view in msg 453 ... which I'l copy below, along with Des Zines comments from msg 455


      From: Ray Toms <ray@m...>
      Date: Mon Mar 27, 2000 1:06am
      Subject: Re: [Distillers] Legal in NZ

      The story of how distilling became legal in New Zealand is rather
      It all dates back to the last Labour Government in the mid 80's when they
      decided in their wisdom that Government Departments would be sold off to
      private enterprise, turned into State owned enterprises (companies) or in
      the case of Departments like Customs which couldn't realy do either, be run
      like businesses and make a profit where ever possible.
      During the redrafting of our liquor laws 1989/90 the Customs Department put
      it to the Goverment that if they were supposed to be business like why did
      they have to check on all licenced stills in the Country where they only
      collected revenue from the ones that made alcohol. The solution to the
      problem ? Make the ownership of a still no longer ilegal which they did by
      simply removing that section from the act. Very shortly after this became
      the case two bright sparks by the name of Peter Wheeler and Malcolm Wheeler
      (yes the same ones that wrote the book and own Spirits Unlimited) decided
      that if the ownership of a still was no longer ilegal then they would start
      selling them to the general public. This created a beautiful catch 22 for
      Customs, under the Customs act if you distilled alcohol you had to have a
      licence and pay excise tax, but the thought of policing home stills for
      small amounts of alcohol filled them with horror so they made an internal
      policy that although there was nothing to stop them licencing home stills
      that they wouldn't do it. This left them in another no win situation, the
      maximum fine under the act was $500 and consfiscation of the offending
      alcohol, the cost of a prosecution several thousand dollars so they didn't
      deem that to be an efficient use the their money either so they largely
      turned a blind eye to it all. After many submissions to Government (myself
      included) when the liquor laws where changed again in October 1996 sanity
      prevailed and the customs act was changed and the word spirits added into
      the part about brewing beer, wine or the growing of tobacco for your own use
      was free of excise tax.
      This is a pretty unique set of circumstances which are unlikely to be
      replicated overseas I would have thought although I believe that there is a
      lot of pressure for Australia to follow and we are watching with great
      interest to see if it happens.


      From: Des <topkiwi@i...>
      Date: Mon Mar 27, 2000 6:32am
      Subject: Re: [Distillers] Legal in NZ

      Well thank you Ray for answering this question. I have not had the time to
      respond earlier.
      Yes the explanation below is a good rundown on the recent distillation
      history in New Zealand. The situation to some extent got too big for the
      government to control and as the product being produced could not be
      faulted on health grounds (yes it was tested by "the powers that be") there
      was really no other choice but to legalise it. In about September 1995 it
      was estimated that there were close to 2000 stills, capable of producing
      alcohol, being used as 'ornaments' in the Auckland city alone.
      A number of us interested parties made submissions to our local members of
      parliament and the governing bodies in support of the law change.
      There have really been no problems and so long as it stays that way other
      governments may eventually see the light. However it must be remembered
      that alcohol production is a good, easy, and inexpensive source of tax
      revenue to any government. For this reason I urge all NZers to 'play the
      game' and abide by the rules. We have something unique to be cherished.

      Just like to mention, the authors of the book mentioned below are Peter
      Wheeler and Malcolm Willomtt who developed the home distillation system we
      use now days.

      Thank you for a very interesting question, I am sure a lot of people are
      interested in how it all happened.

      Young Des.
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