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John Key is a fact free zone on alcohol pricing.

Hon Jim Anderton
Member of Parliament for Wigram

29 August 2011

John Key is a fact free zone on alcohol pricing.

John Key is rewriting history as he tries to explain why the government won't act on New Zealand's heavy drinking culture, Progressive Wigram MP Jim Anderton says.

Talking about minimum pricing for alcohol on TVNZ's breakfast programme this morning, John Key said:

John Key: Now do you remember some years ago Jim Anderton passed a law that put the price of Sherry up.

Corin Dann: The Sherry drinkers yeah.

John Key: It did a couple of things. It put the fortified wine manufacturers in my electorate out of business, and it stopped grandma having a Sherry, so she moved off to a low price Vodka. It didn't actually change her consumption of alcohol. So yes I mean if you could get a price that was a high selling point for all alcohol, maybe, but all you're likely to do is raise excise across the board.

Jim Anderton says John Key is rewriting history of a highly successful tax that removed a lethal product from the shelves.

"I introduced a Bill that increased the price of so-called light spirits - those that had 23 per cent proof alcohol.

"It was targeted at wiping out the light spirits industry, because they were selling high octane drinks to kids. They were 25 per cent proof of alcohol drinks of vodka, gin, whisky, and brandy.

These so-called light spirits were lethal and the bill was a success. Sales of light spirits were reduced by 85 per cent and they went off the market. That was the whole point of the bill, and John Key speaks as if it was a bad thing.

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"The cost of alcohol-related harm to New Zealand is indicated by reputable economists and analysts to be in the order of $2 billion to $3 billion a year.

"Mr Key is now trying to argue that the problem is mostly binge-drinking and mostly the young. But that is not true. 700,000 New Zealanders drink heavily. Sixty per cent of all police arrests involve alcohol.

"And one measure that has made a difference in recent times - using price to remove a literally lethal product aimed at young binge drinkers - was a complete success,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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