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MPs Surveyed on Drinking Age Vote

19 October 2006

MPs Surveyed on Drinking Age Vote

The New Zealand Drug Foundation today began a survey of members of Parliament on their support for the raising the drinking age.

Results from the survey will be updated on the Drug Foundation's drinking age website -- www.20years.co.nz .

The survey has been launched in anticipation of the Law and Order Committee's report to Parliament on their eleven month examination of Martin Gallagher's "Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction Bill". The report is due to be tabled on Friday 20 October.

Mr Gallagher's bill seeks to raise the minimum purchase age for alcohol (the "drinking age") from 18 to 20 years.

The Drug Foundation strongly endorses returning the age to 20 years -- New Zealand and international evidence overwhelmingly shows raising the age is one key part of an overall strategy to change the drinking culture.

"We launched the website when the bill was first introduced last year because of strong public interest in the drinking age debate. The public are again interested in how MPs will vote this year. Surveys consistently show over 70 percent of New Zealanders think the age should be returned to 20 years, so we saw the need to provide the public accessible information about how MPs are thinking on this issue," said Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

"The New Zealand public can now see whether their local MP is voting in the interests of public health. We know that this is a very important issue for people and we are pleased to provide this simple but effective resource," he said.

"We expect most political parties to treat this as a personal or conscience issue, rather than a party vote. That makes it especially important for individual MPs to publicly declare their voting intentions. With Parliament soon to restart the debate, we anticipate keen interest from the public and media in how each MP is likely to vote," he said.

www.20years.co.nz is now online

ENDS

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