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Parliament must respond on purchasing age

Parliament must respond to public’s strong view on purchasing age

Parliament must respond to New Zealanders’ very strong view that the alcohol purchasing age be raised back to twenty, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

“The findings of today’s Fairfax/ACNielsen nationwide survey of public opinion could hardly be clearer.

“In every age group and in every region, the overwhelming message to Parliament is that much stronger leadership is required to improve our nation’s drinking culture and in particular to turn the tide against the harm being caused by the misuse of alcohol by minors,” Matt Robson said.

A majority of MPs voted earlier this month to refer Matt Robson's Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill to a select committee where the public can have their input.

Matt Robson’s Bill proposes stronger rules on alcohol broadcast advertising and against supplying alcohol to minors. It also proposes to raise the minimum legal alcohol purchasing age, that is the age at which you can walk into a licensed outlet and buy alcohol, to twenty.

“One of the most impressive findings of today’s poll is that sixty per cent (60%) of those aged between 18 and 24 years, said that they support raising the legal purchasing age.

“What this tells me is that a majority of young adults agree that this legislation has nothing to do with penalizing young adults, but everything to do with trying to reduce the harm that alcohol is causing to minors.

“The question that Parliament has to honestly answer is this: Did our 1999 decision to lower the alcohol purchasing age by two years in turn lower the effective age at which minors in our country easily access alcohol by two years?

“In other words, if many 17 year-olds easily accessed alcohol from their 20-year-old friends before 1999, did the 1999 law change make it easier for 15-year olds to access alcohol from their eighteen year old mates?

“The opinion of many public health professionals, and the opinion of many frontline police and welfare workers, is that the answer to this question is yes. Today’s poll suggests that a majority of New Zealanders also believe that one of the main effects of the 1999 law change was to make access to alcohol easier for very young teenagers and people have a right to demand that their Parliament fix the policy error that Parliament itself made in 1999,” Matt Robson said.

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