Parliament got it wrong - health officials
Thu, 30 Aug 2012 10:42p.m.
By Laura Frykberg
Health officials say our politicians have missed an opportunity to change the country's drinking culture after voting to keep the drinking age at 18.
MP's had considered raising the age to 20, or introducing a split age depending on where alcohol was purchased but a clear majority supported the status quo.
Instead 68 voted in favour of keeping the status quo and just 53 voted to raise the age to 20.
“What this is about is if we want real change in this country, then we need targeted provisions which target access, but we don't snuff out the rights of 18 and 19-year-olds,” says National MP Nikki Kaye.
“I think hopefully it sends a message to our young people that we expect them to be responsible, just as we expect older drinkers to be responsible,” says Justice Minister Judith Collins.
But others think Parliament got it wrong again.
“It was never about blaming young people and it was never about pretending that all the problems exist with young people, of course it doesn't, but it was about trying to have greater parental responsibility and control,” says National MP Tim Macindoe.
And the Greens say young people aren't the real problem.
“Those people under the age of 18 mostly get their alcohol from their parents, not from 18 and 19-year-olds,” says Green MP Kevin Hague.
And those who deal with the consequences of alcohol abuse say an opportunity's been missed.
“Heavy drinking culture in New Zealand will be celebrating tonight, but the people who are picking up the mess and treating people with alcohol problems I think will be profoundly disappointed about this,” says Doug Sellman of the National Addiction Centre.
Keeping the drinking age at 18 is now part of the wider alcohol reform bill which also includes giving communities more say on how and where alcohol sold in their area.
Debate on that and other elements of the bill will resume next week.
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31/08/2012 7:57:18 a.m.
i watched cambell live last night there was a tele vote the public 81% said no to 18 yes to 20 29% said keep it at 18 i feel sorry for our health officials who spoke out against our youth booze culture and was ignored
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