Andrew Dickens: Why won't the government do something about our booze laws?

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Friday, 12 July 2019, 9:07AM
Photo / Getty Images

So this morning another call has been made to adapt and strengthen our alcohol laws.

Excuse me while I yawn because we all know where this goes because we’ve been here before. It goes nowhere

In the past 10 years we have had four government initiated reports into alcohol and our politicians have managed to ignore every single one.

In 2010 we had the big one helmed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer. The Law Commission Review came up with 153 recommendations including raising the price of alcohol by 10 per cent, raising the drinking age to 20 and making sure communities had more say in where alcohol was sold. As Sir Geoffrey said at the time you can buy a can of RTDs in the suburbs for one or two dollars and that’s less than you’ll pay for bottled water.

Simon Power the minister in charge of booze at the time was so keen for it that he asked for it to be presented to Parliament early, which it was, and then duly ignored with a vote to raise the drinking age defeated. The report disappeared and so did Simon Power.

Now in the past nine years there’s been three other reports that have come to roughly the same conclusion and suffered roughly the same fate. We’ve had a ministerial forum on alcohol advertising. Ignored. A Ministry of Justice report on alcohol pricing. Ignored. 

Now the latest is from the Mental Health Inquiry.

That inquiry says the government should enact all the stuff from the previous 3 inquiries. And that looks like it’s going to be ignored as well. They're too busy wanting to legalise marijuana.

This is all sadly ironic taken that this government brays all over the shop that it’s about wellbeing. A government that can ban guns in a heartbeat yet ignore the most harmful drug in our society. It’s notable that all the government’s over the past decade have been more than happy to tax tobacco into the stratosphere. Yet kids can still pop down to a suburban booze barn and pick up a woody for a song.

It’s got to the point where a group of health experts have written in the New Zealand Medical Journal saying that it almost seems like the governments over the past decade have had vested interests involved in the debate. Big call.

Well I’ll go further than that and say of course there are vested interests. No government wants to be seen as a wowser nanny state. No government wants to upset 18 to 20 year olds by telling them they can vote, marry and fight for our country but you can’t drink. All government’s are scaredy cats.

I have long said this. 

20 for a off licence drinking age, 18 for licensed premises. Raise the price. Travel and you wont find booze cheaper than in New Zealand. And bring in more civil cost recovery mechanisms, basically drunk and disorderly, for all those people who hurt themselves and hurt others because they’re off their face on our only legal recreational drug.  

Just do it. How many times do you have to be asked

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