Liquor ban ruled unlawful

The National PNG

By DOROTHY MARK
LIQUOR will be on sale again from midday today in Madang after the National Court outlawed the ban in the province yesterday.

The Madang National Court nullified the decision by the Madang executive council in December to impose the ban for four years and ordered that it be lifted today because the council did not have the powers to do so. One of the seven plaintiffs, Veronica Moke, said the 252 licensed operators in the province were entitled to claim damages for losses incurred by their businesses.

Judge David Cannings, pictured, ruled in favour of Moke and six others who took the provincial government to court disputing its authority to impose the ban just before Christmas.

The court said it was clear that the PEC had none of the powers it purported to exercise in imposing a liquor ban.
“The ban is unlawful.”

Cannings said a liquor ban could only be imposed if the correct decision-making authority was – under section 86(1) of the 2009 law – satisfied that in the province law and order had deteriorated to such an extent that local authorities could not control the situation or the local economy was being seriously disadvantaged or a significant threat to public health existed.

Cannings said the decision to impose the liquor ban was made in the absence of the necessary statutory pre-conditions and a liquor ban could only be imposed for a maximum of 21 days.

“Imposing a ban of indefinite duration is not permitted and is for that reason alone unlawful,” he said.

Cannings directed that the Madang council decision was made ultra vires (without power) and contrary to law, namely the Madang provincial liquor law 2009, and subject to those orders, null and void and of no effect.

Madang Governor Peter Yama said he welcomed the court’s decision and would revisit the PEC decision and follow the correct procedures to obtain the ban.

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