Govt targets the young in alcohol crackdown
By Duncan Garner
The Government is cracking down on our drinking and alcohol laws, but it has stopped short of pushing the drinking age in bars back up to 20.
Prime Minister John Key and Justice Minister Simon Power say the measures are designed to target youths whose drinking is out of control.
It has taken on board 126 of the 153 recommendations from a hard-hitting report from the Law Commission.
Alcohol is estimated to contribute to 1000 deaths every year in New Zealand, and the Government says the laws around booze are soft and it's time for change.
"The pendulum has swung too far towards relaxation of alcohol laws," says Mr Power.
So the Government is promoting a split age - 18 in pubs, 20 in off-licences like supermarkets. That will be decided on a conscience vote.
But any MP can put forward a bill during the debate to have the age set at 20 in pubs, and Mr Power says that may yet happen.
"It's not beyond the pale that a member may put on the table a move to raise it to 20 for on and off-licences."
Mr Power also says any adult who hosts a party for minors must get written consent from their parents before serving them drinks.
If they don't, Mr Power says they could be fined.
"If the individual supplies alcohol without consent the fine will be of up to $2000, and it will be entered onto their criminal record."
Some have suggested teenagers taking a note to a party allowing them to drink won't work, but Mr Power says parents have asked for this.
"What we have tried to do is put in a tool for those parents who are concerned about their children attending private functions where alcohol is being supplied, and they don't know what is going on at those parties."
There will be other changes: all bars will have to close no later than 4am; off-licence outlets like supermarkets won't be able sell alcohol after 11pm; ready-to-drink premixes must be limited to five percent alcohol content; local communities will have more power over liquor outlets, where they go, how many there are and when they're open; and there will be new advertising restrictions promoting excessive consumption for both on and off-licences.
Seven out of 10 hospital emergency admissions every weekend are alcohol-related, and Mr Key says it's time to crack down.
Labour says it will support the moves.
The legislation will go before Parliament in October.
source: newshub archive