Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Raising the drinking age will only raise the hyprocrisy

So the media told us on Friday about a parliamentary select committee who had given the go ahead for a bill to raise the drinking age back to 20. Yet if you look at the membership of the Law and Order Select Committee, and the way these MPs voted on the first reading of the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill, this is not really news at all.

Martin Gallagher (Chair)
Sponsor of the bill (now that Matt Robson is no longer in Parliament)
Voted Yes on first reading.

Luamanuvao Winne Laban
Yes on first reading

Ron Mark -
Yes on first reading. Voted against lowering the age in 1999

Jill Petis
Yes on first reading. Voted against lowering the age in 1999

Simon Power
Voted Yes on first reading.

Chester Burrows
Not in parliament when Bill was first read but his other views indicate he is an arch conservative.

Kate Wilkinson
Not in parliament when Bill was first read but is likely to be a conservative on this issue

So the bill was heard by a group of MP likely to have made up their minds before the committee sat down for its first meeting. One wonders if the select committee's consideration of the bill may have been more valuable if its membership had included at least one declared opponent of the bill. Perhaps I am being too generous when I say that.

So its not really "news" the law and order committee recommends that the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill pass with the amendments shown.

I well remember 13 and 14 year olds roving around town with alcohol many years before Parliament lowered the age in 1999. Raising the drinking age back to 20 will do nothing to curb youth drinking - in fact it is likely more young people with gather on the curb because they are no longer allowed in the pub. More importantly it will do nothing to improve New Zealand's drinking culture, particularly as those over 20 will continue to set a bad example. Raising the drinking age will only raise the hyprocrisy.

The bill appeals to a certain section of the electorate who like to hear simplistic solutions to complex problems*. Certain sections of the electorate who will not be affected by this bill. John Stuart Mill warned how liberty could come under threat from the tyranny of the majority.

So no Matt Robson, it will not be "either a stupid or brave Parliament that says we are not going to do anything about this" - only MPs who have a soft spot for stupidity will vote for the bill. And your opponents are not saying we should do nothing about New Zealand's drinking culture - we just happen to think your proposed "answer" is stupid ineffective bollocks.

Good points made on this issue by DPF and NoRightTurn.

* eg. like those who want to lock people up instead of dealing with the causes of crime.

PS: I had planned to do some more posts over the weekend, but blogger was playing up :(

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At 8:30 pm, Blogger Rich said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:31 pm, Blogger Rich said...

Absolutely. The only kids that this will stop drinking are the responsible ones: those that would go and watch a band or a game, have a few beers and get a taxi home.

The ones who are getting shitfaced today will get shitfaced if they're banned from pubs. They'll just drink on the street. Or take (illegal) drugs - and the sellers of those aren't bound by any legal age or host responsibility code.

There are around 120,000 18 and 19 year olds in NZ. A lot of those will be out on the streets drinking or smoking dope (or meth) instead of being in pubs under some form of control.

Interestingly the BORA/HRA ban discrimination in respect of age, subject to "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.".

I don't believe that a moral panic is justification to discriminate between different groups of adults.

At 12:57 am, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

thanks Rich - its always pleasing to know when people are still reading posts that are a couple of weeks old.

Interesting point you raise about the effect of the BORA/HRA. Given that these bits of law precede any increase in age discrimination (it will discriminate against more people), I hope this means the BORA/HRA will have more weight to challenge it. In the unfortunate event parliament does raise the age to 20 one again I hope some form of legal challenge can be mounted.

If 120,000 NZ can no longer buy their two pints a week - perhaps the money could be channeled into a legal fighting fund - At $6 a pint, $1.4m would be a good start!


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