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Brash stance on youth binge drinking insulting

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Brash, Dunne stance on youth binge drinking insults all Kiwis

Hon. Matt Robson, Progressive deputy leader General Debate – Speech Notes

All of us will have seen the recent survey of public opinion showing that sixty per cent of young adults aged between 18 and 24 support raising the legal alcohol purchasing age to twenty.

And it isn't just a strong majority among young adults who want to raise the legal alcohol purchasing age: The age at which you can walk into your corner licensed dairy and buy alcohol.

There are strong majorities in every age group, and in every region of New Zealand, in favour of action on youth binge drinking.

The overwhelming message to us here in this House of peoples' Representatives is that we must show leadership to turn the tide against the harm being caused by the misuse of alcohol by too many young teenagers and children.

My Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill is headed to the Law and Order Select Committee where the public will be able to talk to their representatives directly on this issue.

The Bill tackles three issues that must be addressed as part of a much broader Culture Change Project. The Bill tackles broadcast TV alcohol advertising, the rules we have to stem the supply of liquor to minors and the minimum legal purchasing age.

This is a public health issue, a youth mental health issue, a family policy issue.

This is a public safety issue and New Zealanders have the absolute right to demand that their Parliament act.

The question that every Member of Parliament has to answer is this:

"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 public health professionals, many frontline police and welfare workers, and the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Kiwis is that the answer to this question is 'Yes'.

One of the main effects of the 1999 law change was to make access to alcohol easier for very young teenagers.

People are demanding their Parliament fix the policy error that Parliament itself made in 1999.

Don Brash, Peter Dunne have to explain their stance to families

The leaders of the National, United Future and ACT parties opposed letting the public have a say on this vital health issue.

Don Brash, Peter Dunne and almost every ACT MP voted against the Bill even going to Select Committee.

If they had had it their way, then the people would not even have had the opportunity to talk directly to their employees, that us politicians, on these issues.

I want the leader of the so-called family-friendly party, Mr. Dunne, to get up in this House and tell all of us how come he doesn't think the people of Ohariu-Belmont should be listened to on as vital an issue to real families as this?

The Progressive Party will be holding a public meeting in Ohariu-Belmont on this issue, because we would like to hear what the people in that electorate think.

We'll send the results to Peter Dunne, although, given that the United Future Party staunchly opposed the Progressive's pro-families Four Weeks Annual Leave law change, I admit I'm not holding my breath if it will have any effect on him.

And the people of New Zealand have a right to hear from National leader Don Brash on why he opposes stemming the harm caused by alcohol to children.

Don Brash gave the vital casting vote to liberalize prostitution law a while back.

The Progressive Party disagreed with him on that, but we accepted then that he held a principled view on a complex matter, even if it was a different point of view to our own.

But having given the casting vote in favour of short-term commercial sexual relationships, he went on to oppose Civil Union legislation designed to support loving, longer-term relationships.

To the majority of New Zealanders, Don Brash's contradictory positions then made little sense.

And now we get his stance on the alcohol purchasing age and it confirms our worst fears.

For the third time in a row, Don Brash is showing himself to be totally out of touch with the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders.

Progressive candidates in this year's election campaign will be highlighting Dr. Brash's position on the drinking age issue at every public opportunity we get.

We want to know what his great, alternative strategy to turn the tide against binge drinking is.

He must be hiding it up his sleeve but he should share it with us.

We want to hear it, the Select Committee wants to hear it and the people want to hear it.

I want to briefly comment also on so-called "social liberals" like those that inhabit the ACT Party Caucus.

ACT not only opposes action on youth binge drinking, but its entire caucus voted against Jim Anderton's Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill last week.

Social liberals apparently believe that 14 year olds have some hitherto unknown, God-given, and constitutionally-enshrined right to swallow BZP Party Pills by the dozen.

Next, the social liberals will be telling us it is constitutionally wrong to deny 14-year olds the "Right" to drive motorbikes and 120 kilometres an hour.

It is contemptible.


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