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Robson seeks to raise drinking age, toughen law

Progressive MP seeks to raise drinking age, toughen law

Progressive MP Matt Robson says he believes that a majority in Parliament will be concerned at a survey released today showing a disgracefully high number of liquor outlets across the Auckland region have been found to be selling alcohol to young people without seeking proof of their age.

"As parents and citizens, I believe a majority of the Members of Parliament, regardless of political party affiliation, will feel as dismayed by the findings of this survey as most sensible New Zealanders are.

"The fact is that when Parliament deliberated in 1999 on the former National Government's proposal to lower to the legal minimum drinking age from 20 to 18, we were asked to make our decision in the context and expectation that a 'HARD 18' culture would be put in place in the event of the drinking age being lowered.

"Parliamentarians, and the general public that they represent, were led to believe that steps would be put in place to absolutely ensure that no one under the new, low drinking age of eighteen would be able to purchase alcohol in the event of the drinking age coming down," the Auckland-based Progressive MP said. "What today's independent research shows is that this has not happened.

"It is time to go back to square one on the minimum drinking age.

"Our number one drug problem in New Zealand is alcohol. A recent survey showed that only around half of all parents know when their children drink and that 14 to 17 year olds are drinking more and more often while frontline police are reporting that they are having to deal with rising numbers of drunk teenagers," the Progressive MP said.

Matt Robson has drafted a Private Member's Bill, proposing to raise the minimum drinking age back to twenty years of age, which will be in the Private Members' Ballot tomorrow. The Bill also proposes to strengthen provisions relating to the supply of liquor to minors and to strengthen liquor advertising law. Research released today by the Auckland Regional Alcohol Project shows an increase in the number of liquor outlets across the Auckland region selling alcohol to young people without proof of their age compared with last year.

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