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May 3, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Youth parties unite in defence of booze

The youth wings of the National, Labour, Green and ACT parties joined forces last week, kicking off the Keep It 18 Campaign, aimed at rejecting a change which would see the minimum age for purchasing alcohol raised to 20.

The campaign is in reaction to a recent Law Commission Report entitled ‘Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing The Harm’. The report contains 153 recommendations aimed at reducing the long- and short-term negative effects of alcohol abuse.

Law Commission President,Sir Geoffrey Palmer says that the “reforms are firmly targeted at reducing the harms associated with heavy drinking and drinking to intoxication”.

Palmer believes that because the scientific understanding of the development of the brain has “advanced considerably” since the drinking age was lowered, “we would be negligent if we disregard this evidence in respect of alcohol legislation”.

“With this knowledge has come a greater understanding of the risks early onset of drinking poses to the adolescent, both in terms of acute harms and the longer-term risks of development.”

Keep It 18 campaign spokesperson Jenna Raeburn says “Parliament has twice voted down the purchase age to be 18, and it is disappointing that the Law Commission is trying to turn the clock back again.”

Raeburn says that while the main focus of the campaign is on the purchase age, “We are also concerned over the proposed nationwide setting of closing times, and mandating a one-way policy for bars after 2am”.

Young National President Daniel Fielding labelled the reforms as “nanny state policies”, and says “a blanket measure of raising the drinking age will not change the drinking culture”.

Young Labour’s spokesperson for the Keep It 18 campaign Nicola Wood agrees.

“If we want to create a culture of responsible drinking, we need policy which better enables young people to make positive decisions about how they use alcohol, while at the same time acknowledging that this broad problem cannot be pinned on one sector of society.”

The New Zealand Institute of Liquor Licensing Inspectors (NZILLI) welcomes the Law Commission’s report.

NZILLI President Murray Clearwater says “The current Sale of Liquor Act 1989 is long overdue for review and it is refreshing to see the Law Commission suggest that a whole new act be written rather than just amending the current one.”

Clearwater says that any new act needs to clearly outline the roles and responsibilities for the agencies charged with regulation and monitoring of the industry.

He also says NZILLI believe minors should only be allowed to consume alcohol under the direct supervision of their parents, and the group supports raising the purchasing age at off-license premises to 20.

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley slammed Justice Minister Simon Power ruling out a key recommendation which would see a tax increase, raising prices by an average of 10 per cent.

“The ink on the Law Commission’s report is hardly dry, and Mr Power has ruled out one of the key recommendations.”

She also raised questions about whether “the hand of the alcohol industry” had played a part in Power’s decision.

“By ignoring the comprehensive approach and the cry of the doctors and nurses of New Zealand in their public statement… John Key’s government is showing that they are prepared to put vested interests ahead of the health of New Zealanders.”

The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, who represent Dominion Breweries, Lion Nathan, Pernod Ricard and Constellation, is calling for “commonsense proposals” on possible law changes.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich raised concerns about “the socially conservative” nature of parliament, speculating “if it was put to the vote right now… it would be raised”.

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  1. Stefan says:

    The statistics in this report show that irresponsible behaviour amongst drunk 18 and 19 year olds is higher than that of other age groups, which is fair enough and is probably accurate. The vast majority of 18 and 19 year olds however, manage to drink responsibly, without causing trouble or adversely affecting society in any way – you simply don’t hear about them on the news.
    There are also reports out there which show crime to be higher amongst certain ethnic groups, or citizens who live in certain areas. For example, if you were to pick out a random Maori male living in South Auckland, then statistically speaking, he would be more likely to have committed a crime than a Caucasian female from a much richer neighbourhood. However, in either case, the chances are still enormously higher that neither of them are criminals. If a shop owner was to ban them from his store based solely upon their race or gender, it would be completely discriminatory as you aren’t able to change those things (not easily anyway).
    If you create a law which discriminates on the basis of your age (remembering that most 18 and 19 year olds are mentally and physically capable of consuming alcohol in a civilised and safe manner, whereas most 12 and 13 year olds are not), then how is that any less discriminatory? A few years ago, the age-dependant wage laws were thrown out because it was deemed to be unfair to pay someone less simply because they were younger than someone else, even though both may have been doing the exact same job. I think that such thinking should prevail in this case as well.
    Now this isn’t to say that something shouldn’t be done – after all, the statistics don’t lie, and there are problems with the way some 18 and 19 year olds over consume and how they behave whilst drunk. The government should focus on more in-school education on not only the physical dangers of drinking, but also which mental and social changes occur while someone is under the influence of alcohol. It should also be taught to older teenagers; 16 and 17 year olds, and not just third and fourth formers during routine health classes.
    There should also be better enforcement of existing laws. We need more police officers in central city areas who are on the lookout for minor crimes such as public urination, littering and disorderly behaviour. If someone is arrested (or given a warning) early, for something that may seem trivial, then they will probably watch their behaviour and drinking in the future – without needing to wait until they commit a more extreme crime before being arrested.

  2. smackdown says:

    lmao did you really buy a DOT COM domain just to post embedded YouTube clips

    There should also be better enforcement of existing laws. We need more police officers in central city areas who are on the lookout for minor crimes such as public urination, littering and disorderly behaviour.

    yeah hey coppers i know youse are busy dealing with assaults, car crashes, rapes, murders, and other ghastly things, but stefan wouldn’t mind you magically pulling 500 peeps in blue outta thin air to make sure steve chopper man beast doesn’t piss in the doorway of fidels

  3. Stefan says:

    Of course I did! My name .com will be worth heaps once I’m famous ;) and leaving clips there saves me having to scroll through 20 pages on Facebook trying to find the video I posted.

    Sorry, I should’ve explained the police bit better; I mean that resources which would otherwise be used to enforce the new law should go towards enforcing existing laws which specifically target an individuals behaviour, rather than their choice in beverage. That isn’t to say that cities could use a greater police presence, but I do realise that the police budget is finite and I would never expect them to prioritise small crimes over major ones.

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