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Launch of Alcohol Survey - Turia Speech Notes

Hon Tariana Turia
19 October 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of Alcohol Survey, Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit, Auckland University

Mihi

It is a pleasure to be here today. I must say, however, that I haven’t had a chance to read the report just yet.

Earlier today in Palmerston North I launched an auahi kore (smokefree) poster – designed by young people. The theme was ‘clear the air’.

Here I am this afternoon, launching the report of an alcohol survey. This survey has repeated the survey undertaken in 1995 using the same methodology and goes some way towards measuring the impact of the increased availability of alcohol to rangatahi. The survey also documents changing patterns of alcohol use in adults.

I am conscious of alcohol abuse being a symptom of deeper concerns. Maori Members of Parliament opposed the liberalisation of the alcohol laws, believing at that time that we were endangering the young people of this society.

The wisdom of hindsight, or could one say, the power of foresight has demonstrated our concerns as having substance.

There has been a marked increase between 1995 and 2000 in the volume of alcohol consumed by males aged 14-15 and even larger increases in males ages 16-17 years old. There has also been an increase of consumption amongst women aged 16-24 years old.

The political influence of extremely powerful commercial lobbiests, have influenced us as politicians and as a result of all our actions, has put future generations of New Zealanders at risk.

I have a particularly high regard for youth and I do not wish it to be seen, that I as a result of my actions, I have put the youth of this country at risk.

I believe, given the failure of us as adults in making decisions to protect our young. We must ask ourselves the question – why would we make it easier for our young to have access to alcohol knowing the potential harm that it can cause?

I have asked ALAC to conduct a health impact assessment on the lowering of the drinking age and this report will inform that work.

While the tobacco industry has had much of its promotional advertising curtailed by responsible governments. Perhaps it is time we extended those responsibilities to consider the detrimental effects of alcohol advertising and the link of alcohol with sport and recreation. We need to support young people to have good times without the need for alcohol.

Increasingly, I am being made aware by a constituency that is becoming more and more concerned, with the negative effects on children not yet born. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a concern and as I have stated earlier.

While more and more members of communities are expressing concern, research tells us that we indeed must all be concerned. Who then, should take the lead for change?

Who then takes the first step to initiate change? I put to you, as a group of researchers – if what you do, does not stimulate any sector of our society to agitate for change, what then is the purpose of research?

Because, in my view any meaningful research must surely not only identify what has happened, but it must give a lead as to what could happen.

The furthering of academic careers must not be the sole purpose for research. As a person who believes in liberation I want research to a mechanism for liberation.

Research arms people with information, and if valid, the information can be used by people to set themselves free. And in this instance, to liberate themselves from dependence on alcohol.

APHRU has not been afraid to challenge those with vested interests in increased alcohol use and I applaud you for continuing to document this situation as regarding the alcohol usage.

I appreciate issues of alcohol use are complex, that is why I will support research which will lead to decreased alcohol use.

Thank you Sally, Helen and your team for your huge contribution over many years.

Na reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

ENDS

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