Scoop Today- Drinking Laws – The Range Of Opinion On New Drinking Laws – The Economic Position Of Maori – Our Ageing Non-Workforce – The ECA Is Working – PM’s Advice Marxist Rubbish – Montana Awards…
Today after negotiating a 20 hour scheduled debate in around 8 hours the house is sitting a normal Thursday beginning with Questions of the Day. As is the routine at Scoop we will be updating throughout the afternoon.
Ranging Reaction To New Drinking Age
- The fallout from the decision over the lowered drinking age rages today, with a range of opinions on offer from a range of people. Here are some:
-Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association congratulated the decision. See. MPs Congratulated on Drinking Age Change  in the Education wire.
-Canterbury University Students' Association said the move shows that Parliament trusts young people  .
-The Young Nationals claim the Prime Minister's support for the lower age shows she is more in touch with youth than Helen Clark. See. Shipley in touch - Clark losing The Youth Vote  in the Politics wire.
-The Minister of Education Nick Smith today said that education was the key to ensuring alcohol was used responsibly.See. Education Key To Responsible Alcohol Use - Smith  in the Parliament wire.
-NZ First member Gilbert Myles has challenged those who voted to lower the age to spend a Friday or Saturday night with Auckland cops and see the mess they have caused. See. Intoxicated Members Will End Up With Hang-Overs  ,
Also in the Parliament wire. -New Zealand First MP Ron Mark has slammed other Christchurch MPs for voting to lower the drinking age from twenty to eighteen last night, but warns that the fight is not over. See. Fight Not Over On Lowering Drinking Age  in the Parliament wire.
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED9907/S00034.htm  - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED9907/S00036.htm  - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO9907/S00077.htm  - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9907/S00557.htm  - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9907/S00561.htm  - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9907/S00569.htm
The Economic Position Of Maori In New Zealand
- Maori Affairs Minister, Hon Tau Henare, today released a booklet that he says provides a snapshot of the economic position of Maori. See. The Maori Economic Rebirth  in the Parliament wire. Also in the Parliament wire, read Tau Henare's speech to the Tai Tokerau Economic Development Summit. See. Henare Speech - Where To For Maori In Economy  .
Drinking Age Changed, Liquor Debate Ends
- In a shock result, MPs voted to set a lower drinking age of 18 with fewer exceptions than under the old law. See "The House: New Drinking Age Set"  in the headlines wire. Shortly after the House also agreed to Alcohol sales on Sundays  . As the debate continued through the evening there was a comedy of errors over who voted for what in the vote on the setting of a a new minimum drinking age. The debate concluded to minor changes in what could be sold in supermarkets. See "The House: Alcohol Debate Wraps Up"  . All in the headlines wire.
Thursday Column - Our Ageing Non Workforce
- Today Keith Rankin looks at a little appreciated reality: That people over 45 in New Zealand and other developed countries are less likely to be in paid work. See. Column - New Zealand's Ageing Non-Workforce  in the Headlines wire.
PM's Advice Rubbished
- The Libertarianz have rejected the Prime Minister's 'ten tips' of advice to Pacific Island parents as "rehashed Marxist rubbish". See. Bossy PM Lectures Parents  in the Politics wire. See the PM's advice. Prime Minister Outlines Top 10 Issues For Parents  in the Parliament wire.
ECA Working - Bradford
- Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford said today that the number of disruptions to work through strikes was the lowest in ten years. This proves the Employment Contracts Act is working, he said. See. Strike Days At Decade Low: ECA Working  in the Parliament wire.
Guy Wallace Evidence In Scott Watson Trial
- TV3's report of the Scott Watson Trial contained dramatic new developments. Water Taxi Driver Guy Wallace - the source of the "mystery ketch" theory today described his New Year's Eve recollections. He said he worked the bar at the Furneaux Lodge and served a scruffy person - who the crown allege is the accused. Wallace had been a barman in Picton for six years - where Watson also lived. Later Wallace met the man on the track on the way to the boat. He dropped a couple at the Tamarac and picked up another couple. For more see.TV3 News - 156 Days To The Millennium  in the News Monitor wire.
Legal Action Against Government Over Special Needs
- Last night the Quality Public Education Coalition, at a meeting of parents of children with special needs, decided to take the government to court over their decision to disestablish special needs units. The decision was made to launch an appeal for the $30,000 the legal challenge will cost. See. $30,000 Legal Appeal to defend Special Need Kids  in the Education wire.
First Liquor Vote Passed
- Parliament has approved photo ID cards by 57 - 56 votes in the first vote of a package to reform the liquor laws. The use of a photo ID is not compulsory and retailers do not have to ask to see it but seeing the ID is a defence for the seller if alcohol is sold to a minor. This result means that the House did not vote on an option setting up a Government approved age ID card for the purpose of drinking. However, tougher laws against serving underage drinkers  were passed by Parliament.There is coverage of that particular Debate  and also a handy guide to the issues and options being considered. 
Montana Book Awards
- Heather Nicholson of Auckland has won the 1999 Montana Medal for her social history 'The Loving Stitch: A History of Knitting and Spinning in New Zealand' (Auckland University Press). For a list of all awards see. Auck. Author Wins Top Prize With First 'Big Book'  in the General wire.
A Confidence Vote Won, Yawn
- A year ago they were eagerly anticipated, but today the Government won the last vote of that nature it had to face in this term  and no one blinked. See the Headlines wire.
The Politics Of Pressure
- Scoop's Jonathan Hill examines the pressure exerted upon both the New Zealand government and New Zealand consumers to accept genetically engineered food. Originally published in the Soil & Health GE Issue, this feature takes a comprehensive look at the corporate and government investment into genetic engineering and shows why the key players now cannot turn their backs on this unpopular technology. See. The Pressure On NZ To Accept Genetic Engineering  in the Headlines wire. Republished with permission from Soil & Health.
Questions: PM Defends Public Service, Allegations About John Tamihere
- Today's questions of the day were attended by the PM who defended, again, an embattled public service. Later in question time (question 11) she had the opportunity to go on the offensive against Labour after the New Zealand First Party raised allegations about severance payments from the Te Waiperaira Trust to Labour Candidate John Tamihere. The PM said the allegations could be serious if they were true. The Labour party later tabled a letter from the trust saying the allegations were completely untrue. Mr Tamihere has been interviewed on the radio saying he is not willing to stoop to the level of responding to the attack. Full coverage of questions: WINZ - ACC - Masters Of Business - Indigenous And Tribal People - Young Offending - National Archives (see.. Questions Of The Day (1-6)  ) Race Relations - Plunket Line - Bail - INCIS - Handshakes - Human Rights Commission (see..Questions Of The Day (7-12)  ).
- In the Auckland wire, there is coverage of Auckland Airport shares remaining with Manukau City  , the last patients moving from Kingseat  and much more.
More WINZ Extravagance
- Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald says he has documents which show that WINZ took ten staff members to a VIP lunch at a cost of $600 per person. He said a number of other government agencies also attended the lunch which probably cost the taxpayer $50,000 all up. See. More WINZ extravagance exposed  in the Parliament wire.
- Auckland's air pollution levels are higher than they have been in years. The levels of air pollution are caused mainly by residential wood fires as well as traffic and industry. Levels in Queen Street are particularly high and authorities are considering action particularly regarding wood fires.
Student Debt Impact Documented
- Pressure continues to build on the government over the skyrocketing student loan scheme. Today the New Zealand University and Polytech Students' Association released their Debt Casebook which contains first hand accounts of how the loan debt impacts on students. See. Debt Casebook - Reality Check For Bradford  in the Education wire.
Suicide and Mental Health
- The Alliance says that 273 mental health patients have taken their own lives  while in hospital care in the last four years.