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Liquor lobby's parliamentary privilege revoked

Saturday, 10 September 2005

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Liquor lobby's parliamentary privilege revoked

Progressive MP Matt Robson told the Cutting Edge conference on alcohol, drug, and co-existing disorders in Dunedin today that he feels proud to have played a part in revoking an inappropriate privilege that had been wrongly extended to the powerful liquor industry.

"I remember, with some anger I must admit, the huge effort put into lobbying Members of Parliament before the 1999 law change which radically liberalized alcohol retailing and cut the alcohol purchasing age to the social detriment of young New Zealanders.

"That's why when I saw this person from the Beer, Wine & Spirits Council wandering around Parliament with an official parliamentary pass around her neck earlier this year, as if she were some kind of official staff member, I asked my staff to make enquiries.

"The way I saw it was that if the Chief Executive of the Hospice Association, or the Chief Executive of Save The Children Fund, who often appropriately come to Parliament to lobby MPs to outline their concerns, aspirations and hopes, aren't entitled to an official photo ID allowing them to walk around Parliamentary offices any time of the day or night as they like, then why on Earth should a Liquor Industry official?

"When these public good lobby groups want to see an MP they have to get a Visitor's Sticker like any other taxpayer and I think the same should go for the liquor industry.” To cut a long story short, the Speaker's Office this year revoked the inappropriate decision that had been made during the time of a previous speaker to extend official lobbyist status to the liquor industry, and I admit to feeling some pleasure at that fact," Matt Robson said.

Matt Robson, the deputy leader of Jim Anderton's Progressive Party, has a law called the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill, which is currently before Parliament's Law and Order Select Committee. The Bill proposes to get tougher on those caught inappropriately supplying liquor to minors, to stop TV liquor advertising before 10pm and seeks to raise the minimum legal age that you can buy alcohol raised to twenty, that is the age that you can walk into your local corner licensed dairy and buy alcohol.

The Progressive Party needs to win at least 1.3% of the Party Vote to ensure Matt Robson is returned to Parliament so he can advance his Bill. Under Parliament's rules, it is up to the new incoming government to either keep Matt's Bill alive or to bury it. Those that voted against it earlier this year include Don Brash (National), Peter Dunne (United Future), Rodney Hide (ACT) and the Greens's co-leaders.

ENDS

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