Drinking age stays at 18
Thu, 30 Aug 2012 5:00p.m.
By 3 News online staff
MPs have chosen, by 68 votes to 53, to keep the drinking age at 18.
The decision was made after two rounds of voting and a fierce period of debate in Parliament.
There were initially three possible options for reforming the drinking age: keep it at 18, raise it to 20, or introduce a ‘split age’ so 18-year-olds could only buy alcohol at pubs, bars and restaurants.
In the first round of voting only 33 MPs opted for the ‘split age’ option, while 38 voted for raising the age to 20 and 50 voted to keep it at 18.
As it had the fewest votes, the split age option was then dropped and the second round of voting took place with MPs asked to choose between keeping the age at 18 or raising it to 20.
The issue was a conscience vote so each MP could vote how they liked.
3 News asked MPs how they would vote on the bill before they went into the House.
Those voting to increase the drinking age included National’s Tim Macindoe, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Mike Sabin and NZ First’s Asenati Lole-Taylor, Richard Prosser and Dennis O’Rourke.
MPs voting for a split age included Justice Minister Judith Collins, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, Courts Minister Chester Borrows and ACT leader John Banks.
Voting for keeping it at 18 were Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, Treaty Settlement Minister Chris Finlayson and National MP Melissa Lee.
Prime Minister John Key was planning to vote for a split age.
MPs have their say before the vote
Labour’s Lianne Dalziel says the vote makes it look as though age is the only problem.
“It’s not the only problem we have,” she says. “There are much more important issues [like] minimum prices for alcohol, the closing time for off-licences and proximity of off-licences to schools.”
However NZ First’s Dennis O’Rourke says the only way to combat the issue is to raise the bar to 20, with the other options being a “cop-out”.
“We see them every night in every bar in every town misbehaving and drinking excessively […] so the latest possible age is best and that age is 20.”
The Green Party’s Gareth Hughes says raising it won’t be effective and won’t deal with the culture of binge drinking, and pointed to MPs themselves as binge-drinkers.
“I used to work as a bartender across the road at Backbenchers and there I saw the problem - it wasn’t youth drinking, it was inappropriate drinking,” he says.
“I saw MPs binge drinking and intoxicated across the road.”
Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway says he has no enthusiasm for any of the options.
“After this vote, we will be no closer to dealing with alcohol-related harm as we were at the beginning of the day.
“I argue it will have almost no impact on alcohol-related harm.”
Police Minister Anne Tolley says she’s interacted wide and far with her East Coast constituents about how to address the issues with alcohol and binge drinking.
“Around 80-85 percent of the respondents in my electorate said please, put the drinking-age back to 20,” says Ms Tolley.
“That includes, interestingly, young students who have told me, ‘Please help us because so many of our friends are unable to manage themselves.'”
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28/09/2012 9:24:01 p.m.
Logical 18 year old student wrote:
Raising the alcohol consumption age to 20 will not deal with the strong drinking culture that is evident in this country. I am 18 years of old, however, if I believed that raising the age to 20 would solve the problem, I would be all for it. Speaking from common knowledge, I know for a fact that if the age was to be raised, house parties etc would grow in number. 92% of young people get there alcohol from people over the age of 20. Binge drinking has been evident within this country's culture for many years, and until this is addressed, nothing will change. Yes, smaller amounts of young people will be drinking in public, but is an 'out of sight out of mind' mentality what New Zealanders want?
5/09/2012 11:15:39 p.m.
Fair Kiwi wrote:
All these Governments care about is revenue gathering. If they put the age up it means less taxes. How many times have we heard them complaining about young ones over-drinking and drink-driving and then they hypocritically go against the public wishes. These members of parliament need to be held criminally responsible in a law court for the deaths of any more of our children.
Had enough of the incompetent drongo's.
3/09/2012 1:09:42 p.m.
Miss N wrote:
I don't about alcohol full-stop. I care about legalising cannabis. Alcohol kills. Everybody knows.
31/08/2012 5:15:36 a.m.
The MP's voted in favour to keep it 18 and they all acknowledge the culture of drinking needs to improve in New Zealand. Parliament are likely to pass the remainder of the Alcohol Reform Bill which contains some clauses that will go far further in achieving this result. It's bull to suggest they bowing down to the big breweries. The fact is that this is the second attempt since the lowering of the purchase age in 1999 to increase it back to 20 and it has been rejected both times with similar results. Increasing the age is the most counter-productive measure possible to changing the drinking culture because it doesn't give any New Zealander's any reason to become more responsible drinkers.
31/08/2012 12:14:13 a.m.
Te Rina wrote:
For goodness sake how many of our young people have to die because some young 17 or 15 year old was out drinking and got in a car to drive home. Has anyone been into an ED department to see exactly what effects at keeping the drinking age at 18 is?? The 18's and under have already shown themselves to have no responsibility when it comes to alcohol. I hope each MP is outed as to what they voted for so their electorates can ditch them at the next election.
30/08/2012 8:33:33 p.m.
James J.Read wrote:
Thank goodness that the drinking age hasn't been raised.It is most unlikely that 18-20 year olds would give up drinking and there is no evidence that binge drinking would have disappeared.
30/08/2012 7:32:14 p.m.
Once again the air headed gutless Politicians have sold their souls to the big Breweries. It will be interesting to see what donations they get at the next elections, that's if they don't hide them.
30/08/2012 7:13:41 p.m.
One shouldn't look at the side effects of 18 yrs drinking in a vacuum. The alternative of a potpourri of illegal drugs and legal propellants has far more dire consequences. Why do individuals desperately seek to escape with alcohol or drugs. That is the problem that needs to be sorted.
30/08/2012 7:05:39 p.m.
Clearly the liquor lobby did a very effective job on our MPs given that public opinion appears to have been in favour of raising the age back to 20.
30/08/2012 7:04:59 p.m.
Chrissy Fraser wrote:
It should never have been 18 in the first place - I am very disappointed in this outcome.
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