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Sir Paul Reeves – Leading ambassador for alcohol law reform

Sir Paul Reeves – Leading ambassador for alcohol law reform in heavy drinking New Zealand

One of the final acts of Sir Paul Reeves’ prestigious public life was leading a VIP delegation to Parliament and presenting a statement calling for effective alcohol law reform.

“Sir Paul needed no persuasion to get involved in the alcohol reform campaign” said Professor Doug Sellman, of Alcohol Action NZ, “and he immediately grasped the key issues, including the tension between big business interests and the public good.”

The July 2010 statement signed by 15 iconic New Zealanders endorsed the stand taken earlier by 450 leading Doctors and Nurses to raise alcohol prices, raise the purchase age, reduce alcohol accessibility, reduce marketing and advertising, increasing drink driving countermeasures and increase treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers – the 5+ Solution.

The VIP group also challenged all political parties to make public their alcohol policies and stop hiding behind the conscience vote as a way of avoiding taking responsibility “for solving the corrosive problem of the heavy drinking culture”.

“Sir Paul referred to the state of alcohol in New Zealand as “one of the most important social issues of our time” and urged the government to make the most of the current “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to do something really constructive to reduce the enormous damage being inflicted on New Zealand society by alcohol misuse” added Dr Geoffrey Robinson.

“It was a huge privilege to have someone of Sir Paul’s stature give such enthusiastic support to a movement which is not yet fully accepted in the mainstream. He was gracious, generous, humble and brave, and will no doubt be widely remembered as one of the pioneers of an emerging Aotearoa New Zealand. But for us he will also be seen as one of the great figures of the establishment who had the insight and courage to stand up and promote effective legislative measures to reduce the burden of heavy drinking in New Zealand.”


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