Liberalised Booze Laws Must be Reversed

Family First NZ says that the government’s response to alcohol laws to be introduced in parliament tomorrow will have little effect on our binge drinking culture and as a result the problems of domestic violence, child abuse, underage drinking, public drunkenness, repeat drunk driving offences and binge drinking will continue.

“The binge drinking culture has been spiralling out of control as we have liberalised laws and controls around alcohol abuse. In 1989 alcohol law changes eased restrictions for off-licence selling including supermarket and grocery stores selling, and availability increased as trading hours of on-licence venues were extended. And then in 1999 we foolishly lowered the drinking age, allowed the sale of beer in supermarkets and further increased trading hours,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“In response, the government has tackled the festering sore of alcohol harm with a tickle, and in the process ignored the overwhelming voice of NZ’ers and groups representing families and communities who made key recommendations to the Law Commission.”

“Polls over the last couple of years have shown that 2/3’rds or more of NZ’ers want the drinking age raised to at least 20, instant fines for public drunkenness, on-license premises to close by 2am, and the legal blood-alcohol limit lowered to 50. These opinions have been ignored. The government says they are listening – the question is to who?”

“The split drinking age sends a mixed message and also ignores the growing body of medical evidence regarding the harms of alcohol to teenagers and young people. Increasing parental responsibility for underage drinking is not what has been asked for either. NZ’ers overwhelmingly want the age increased and parents want legal backing and enforcement – not more responsibility to try and counter the prevailing culture of excessive drinking.”

Family First is also disappointed with the lack of strong action on health warnings on all alcohol products, loss leading and availability within supermarkets, marketing of RTD’s, and pre-vetting and restrictions on alcohol advertising.

“Ironically, public health campaigners in Australia today called for bottle shop exclusion zones around schools and a ban on alcohol advertising on public transport to prevent children from being bombarded with ”insidious” alcohol marketing.”

“At a time when we’re trying to tackle domestic violence and child abuse which is far too often fuelled by alcohol abuse, the measures announced by the government will make little difference,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Our liberalised alcohol laws from the past two decades is the best place to start.”

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