Family First NZ says that the government’s proposals to reform alcohol laws 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, politicians have 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.”
“Ironically, just two months ago, a report from the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman said raising the drinking age to 21 and increasing alcohol prices would be two of the most effective ways to address youth drinking problems. Both these requests have been ignored,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“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.”
“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?”
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.
“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.