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Raising the drinking age is the best solution

22 November 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Raising the drinking age is the most effective step to take

Overseas evidence shows that the most effective single step Parliament could take to curb binge drinking by teenagers is to raise the drinking age, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

"I wasn't going to comment on the recent tragic death of a teenager who had drunk extraordinary quantities of alcohol on licensed premises. However, I've been asked to comment on United’s repetition, after this tragic case, of their call for different alcohol purchasing ages for bars, restaurants and bottle stores.

"Sadly, the case involved merely highlights why United's proposal that New Zealand retain an 18 year age limit at licensed premises wouldn't have helped," Matt Robson said.

The Progressive Party is campaigning to have the next coalition agreement require Parliament as a whole to re-examine the drinking age, lowered to 18 from 20 in 1999.

Progressive wants to raise the drinking age to 20 and is confident that other parties, including United, will act once Parliament looks at all the evidence.

On Friday, United MP Marc Alexander used his weekly column to highlight his party's policy which is to retain the 18 year old age limit in licensed premises, but raise the minimum legal purchasing age to twenty in bottle stores. He said:

"The avoidable death of 19 year old Willy Cranswick through alcohol abuse will raise the call for tougher alcohol laws. It is an understandable reaction. While everyone seems to want to blame the industry, the bar manager, and even that nebulous concept, the culture of binge drinking, we should acknowledge that Willy himself was complicit; at 19 years he could have made different choices. Although we can put some blame on the bar manager for not monitoring the clearly dangerous manner in which Willy was drinking, it was Willy's own choice to consume the staggering number of 24 double bourbons in just four hours. No one forced him . . he was of legal age . . and he died." . . . . more “Blaming Willy Cranswick for his own death allows the liquor industry, which vigorously promotes alcohol consumption, to be absolved of all responsibility. Binge drinking is a fact, and Parliament has a responsibility to take the necessary steps to reduce alcohol harm,” said Matt Robson.


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