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The New Write 27/11/2001

THE NEW WRITE

Official Newsletter of the New Zealand Young Nationals

November 27th 2001

"The one thing I hate is the National Party. I think they're loathsome people. I do."
-Helen Clark

1. DRINKING AGE REVIEW
2. OPINION: LINDSAY PERIGO ON THE DRINKING AGE
3. JIM ANDERTON'S OFFICE UNDER INVESTIGATION
4. TOP TEN PRIORITIES FOR ACTING PRIME MINISTER JIM ANDERTON WHILE HELEN IS AWAY
5. WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

1. DRINKING AGE REVIEW

The Government is considering raising the drinking age back to 20 as one
possible result of a major review into the lowering of the drinking age.

The Government commissioned a review in July, and is expected to report back by the end of the year. Justice Minister Phil Goff, who voted against
lowering the age to 18, says he wants to "clarify the extent to which trends
have altered as a result of the lowering of the drinking age."

This includes things such as teenage car accidents, hospital admissions,
youth offending and school behaviour.

"New Zealand has a major problem with teenage binge drinking. It's not a new
problem, but nor have I seen any evidence that situation is improving."

Prime Minister Helen Clark also voted against the law change in 1999 because she was concerned it would lead to more drinking by young people and easier access to alcohol.

"The problem being that once you lower the age to 18 you make it easier for 15, 16 and 17-year-olds to access alcohol." But she did not think that Parliament would easily reverse its decision.

2. OPINION - LINDSAY PERIGO ON THE DRINKING AGE

I like to say that the only person with a drinking problem is a person who
doesn't drink. I could get away with that if I didn't go over the edge
sometimes while under the influence of too much of my favourite red
beverage. Anyway, I've had occasion to ponder this drinking business after
the release of research from Auckland University purporting to show that
since the legal drinking age was lowered from 20 to 18 in 1999, the number
of 16- & 17-year olds who "binge-drink" has risen dramatically. This seems
to coincide with anecdotal accounts of trashed teenagers swarming the
streets of New Zealand cities. Predictably, the release of the research has
sparked a clamour to have the legal age limit put back up to 20.

Libertarians argue the toss as to whether a free society would have a legal
drinking age at all. When not touting the admirable proposal that drinking
should be compulsory from birth, I tend to the view that a free society
would not. Aside from the freedom issue (& no, I don't believe kids should
be free to do ANYTHING, but it's important that the government NOT tread on
parental prerogatives) there are already societies that don't have such
laws, whose youth is not constantly alcohol-sodden. Japan, for instance. So
what is it about New Zealand, I wonder, that makes the direst predictions of
the wowsers come true when the age is lowered from 20 to 18?

I don't know for certain, but I suspect that the upsurge in "binge-drinking"
among youngsters would have occurred anyway, & that putting the legal age
back up won't stop it. These kids have been put through an education system
that leaves them cynical, directionless & listlessly conformist. It's not
surprising that they want to blot out their consciousness, not just with
booze but whatever is available. I don't doubt that comparable research into
cannabis use would find a similar increase in the numbers of youthful
dope-smokers - and cannabis is completely illegal at any age.

It's not the law that is driving kids to drink & drugs, but the culture - a
culture of cynicism & nihlism nurtured by schools in which even the teachers
are now illterate & in which kids have learned to disguise their native
intelligence in order not be called "nerds" or "try-hards." It's that
culture that needs to be addressed.

Let me add, lest I should be sounding like a wowser myself here, that I
think the odd "binge-drinking" session never hurt anyone. There's nothing
like one for blowing out cobwebs & shedding irrational inhibitions. But,
yes, if kids are doing it routinely & en masse, there's a problem. The
answer is not further restrictions on freedom - it's a culture that
emphasises the flip side of the freedom coin, personal responsibility, &
provides a meaningful context for the exercise thereof.


From Perigo's daily opinion piece, "Politically Incorrect", which you can
subscribe to at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Perigo, or visit the website
www.freeradical.co.nz


3. JIM ANDERTON'S OFFICE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Jim Anderton's Beehive office is being investigated by the Speaker for the
employment of Alliance officeholders in taxpayer-funded jobs.

Despite criticising the previous Government for having too many staff,
Anderton now has 19 ministerial staff, as well as an "electorate liaison
unit", various researchers, and party officials such as Gerald Hehir and
Matt McCarten on the payroll.

Anderton even has a full-time "health advisor", despite the fact he has no
ministerial responsibility for health.

Speaker Jonathan Hunt has asked for a report to examine "any facts given"
that might suggest the Alliance was not using its funding appropriately.

4. TOP TEN PRIORITIES FOR ACTING PRIME MINISTER JIM ANDERTON WHILE HELEN IS AWAY

1. Start stacking next year's Alliance conference.

2. Vow not to threaten resignation more than five times a week.

3. Call Annette King's panel beater and close her account.

4. Help Laila Harre and Matt Robson draft the Alliance's new defence
doctrine: 'Only the fun wars'.

5. Practice the forced, phoney chuckle he manages to introduce into
every interview.

6. Track down anyone, apart from her immediate family, who's actually
heard of Liz Gordon.

7. Seek out any evidence that the "Young Democrats" actually exist.

8. See if the porn collection is as impressive on Labour's parliamentary network as it is on their Auckland electorate office network.

9. Instruct all other government departments and agencies to adopt
the same Alliance green and red corporate colours adopted by Kiwibank.

10. Find out how Judith Tizard really "assists" the PM.

Courtesy of St Molesworth; check out the latest pictorial top ten at
http://www.geocities.com/stmolesworth/Archive/20011123/20011123.html


5. WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

www.dancingpaul.com

This is a virtual disco where you can select music, background and lights
for 'Paul' to get jiggy in; and most importantly you can choose all his
dance moves. Sounds stupid, and it is, but dam it is fun.

Thanks to Anita Ferguson for this website.

And a correction from last edition: the Hamilton walk for capitalism is
called "D2Hamilton2k1" and the contact people are Tim Wikiwhiri
(twikiriwhi@hotmail.com) and Dileepa Fonseka (dpphatness@hotmail.com).


Any views expressed here are not necessarily those of New Zealand Young
Nationals, or the New Zealand National Party.

Contributions, feedback, articles and subscriptions welcome. Email
newwrite@national.org.nz

Editor: Phil Rennie

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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