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Shearing Industry Shoulders The Blame For Alcohol Abuse


Shearing Industry Shoulders The Blame For Alcohol Abuse

The New Zealand Shearing industry yet again shoulders the blame for alcohol abuse and subsequent driving accidents by people who either work in the industry, or are associated with it. That’s the view of New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association (NZSCA) chairman Barry Pullin of Rolleston, following comments by Otago/Southland coroner David Crerar on a road accident death last year involving a Southland shearer.

“The coroner has challenged shearing contractors to have an aspect of host responsibility and supervision in the consumption of alcohol at parties, outside of work hours. Our Association and its members have, over the past five years, taken many steps to combat issues of alcohol, drug abuse and driving accidents during work time,” Barry Pullin says.

“Professionally run businesses do this every day and not only in the shearing industry. Now shearing contractors are challenged to be responsible outside of work time as well. Drink driving and alcohol abuse is a community problem. The sad fact is that in rural communities accidents late at night, well after work time has finished, often have the contributing factor of alcohol,” Mr Pullin noted.

“This is borne out in the road statistics every year. The recent publicity around road accidents, alcohol and shearing gangs needs to be put into context in relation to the NZSCA and its members. All three accidents, two in the East Coast region and the one in Otago/Southland, all occurred well outside of work time and the shearing businesses involved were not NZSCA members.

“It is time that a clear distinction was drawn between businesses that are run professionally and have proactive measures in place around driving, drug and alcohol testing and host responsibility compared to those that don’t. Many functions that are run by shearing businesses such as Christmas staff parties are structured like all other businesses, with food, limited alcohol, safe rides home and supervision.”

Barry Pullin says wild spur of the moment, “drink until you drop” parties are not and never will be controllable unless shut down by police action. This can happen anywhere, in any town and any street in New Zealand Community and individual responsibility must take precedence in these situations.”

Mr Pullin says his association members take very seriously all matters relating to shearing industry personnel with regards to driving and alcohol. “This has been discussed at a recent executive meeting and the proposal is to work with NZ Police, Department of Labour and ACC in an effort to continue helping influence and change the shearing community attitude towards drinking and driving. The days of working hard and playing hard with alcohol involved are definitely over.”

“The NZSCA has been saying for a long time that enough is enough. It is about time other people said so too If you are using shearing contractors or employing individual shearing gangs, have a good hard look at them. They need to be operating at a high level of safety in all things. Challenge them to do so.”


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