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Government ignores alcohol's contribution to family violence



The National-led government once again is ignoring the need for alcohol reform to combat family violence in New Zealand.

The Prime Minister has just announced he is prepared to spend $130 million on trying to reduce family violence, but says nothing and proposes nothing about alcohol as a major contributory factor to the problem.

“John Key is choosing to ignore the scientific evidence, which he is well aware of, for how alcohol reform could contribute to reducing family violence” says Prof Doug Sellman, one of the medical spokespeople for Alcohol Action NZ.

“He uses political ideology and smooth talking to make it appear like the government is doing something about the problem, which essentially amounts to appearing tough by issuing harsher penalties on the most extreme perpetrators. This is an individualised strategy, which lacks any good evidence of effectiveness”.

Six years ago, John Key’s Justice Minister at the time, Simon Power, announced the following in response to New Zealand’s most comprehensive review of the alcohol laws in its history by the Law Commission:

“The statistics can’t be ignored and clearly show a problem with alcohol that must be addressed. Alcohol is... a major driver of crime, being implicated in 30 percent of all police recorded offences, 34 percent of recorded family violence, and 50 percent of all homicides. What the Government has heard from the New Zealand public is that the pendulum has swung too far towards relaxation of the alcohol laws. Today we are responding to the public’s call for action.”

The Government then proceeded to cynically dismiss in turn all of the most effective scientifically backed measures recommended in the Law Commission’s final report – reform of alcohol pricing, marketing, accessibility and age of purchase.

The present Justice Minister, Amy Adams, while talking tough and declaring rightly that New Zealand’s rate of family violence is horrendous, remains true to the present unproven political ideology and like the PM is completely silent about doing anything about the significant contribution that alcohol is making to family violence in New Zealand.

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