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Cross-party youth action on drinking age

6 November 2006

Cross-party youth action on drinking age great to see

A cross-party campaign by young people to keep the legal age for purchasing alcohol at 18 is today being welcomed by Green Party Alcohol and Drugs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"I am thrilled at the launch of the Keep It 18 campaign and website. It is great to see young people from across the political spectrum uniting to take action on this issue," Mrs Turei says.

"The Green Party has long maintained that alcohol-related harms will only be reduced when New Zealand's binge-drinking culture is seriously addressed. This is not limited to young people, and they should not be punished for what is a much wider societal issue.

"It is obvious that this proposed legislation is designed to satisfy public pressure to raise the drinking age rather than to seriously address the problem of alcohol-related harm.

"It contains some bizarre and unworkable provisions, such as creating the new legal category of 'former guardian' to allow 18 and 19 year olds to drink on licensed premises with their parents, to get around the fact that in every other respect 18 year olds are legal adults who no longer require guardians.

"If we are serious about addressing alcohol-related harms, we need to be looking at other measures, such as my private member's bill to ban broadcast advertising of alcohol, that address the wider societal problem we have in New Zealand of tolerating excessive drinking amongst all age-groups," Mrs Turei says.

Young Green Zack Dorner, who spoke at the Keep It 18 press conference today, points out that the young people who will be affected by this proposed law change have been excluded from consultation about it.

"At the first reading of the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Bill, the original sponsor Matt Robson said 'I commend the House to allow the public of NZ, the parents, the caregivers, and the voluntary workers in public health to be able to have their say on how this legislation can be improved.' Not once did he mention consulting young people, the very people he was purporting to be trying to protect", Zack says.

The last Youth Parliament considered this very issue and was unequivocal in its opposition to raising the age back to 20.

ENDS

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