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Suggested solutions won't fix the problem

23 April 2009

Media Release
Available for immediate use

Suggested solutions won't fix the problem

Raising alcohol taxes and the purchase age of alcohol will not fix the problem of alcohol misuse, says Hospitality Association Chief Executive Bruce Robertson, responding to a speech by Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

These measures will simply penalise innocent New Zealanders and do not address the problem. Mr Robertson said that if we want to address minors drinking and New Zealanders' drinking to excess then having a drinking age of 18 rather than a purchase age, and making it an offence to be intoxicated in a public place would be far more effective at changing New Zealand's drinking culture.

Mr Robertson also questioned the Law Commission's selective use of data. Sir Geoffrey cites that over half of all recorded sale of liquor offences over the past 10 years were for allowing intoxicated persons to remain on licensed premises. What Sir Geoffrey fails to do is to put this in to context, that out of 15,000 licensed premises 10 years ago this amounted to 164 offences and it has dropped to 91.

He similarly comments on the sharp rise in the number of offences related to liquor bans without noting that 10 years ago there were no liquor bans, and that liquor bans are being applied to an increasing number of cities throughout New Zealand, so an increase in offences is to be entirely expected.

The work of the Law Commission is very important but to be credible it needs to be balanced and put the data in to context. Selective use of data will result in selective solutions and will fail to achieve parliament's and the communities' expectations of reduced harm, concluded Mr Robertson.


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