Back to top

Date published: 17th October 2007 | Type: Media release

The Drug Foundation today described the government’s alcohol policy proposals as feeble, saying they are a soft political response to a serious health issue. The foundation also criticised justice minister Mark Burton for recommending only limited changes to the Sale of Liquor Act, resulting from his ministry’s 11-month review.

The Ministry of Justice review of supply and sale of liquor to under 18 year olds was announced on the eve of last year’s Parliamentary vote on the ‘drinking age’ bill.

“The Minister’s announcement, in November last year, sunk Martin Gallagher’s member’s bill to raise the minimum alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20 years. Parliamentarians, hoping the review would take a broader look at alcohol policy, voted against Mr Gallagher’s bill 72 to 49. However, the outcome of that review does not meet the expectations of Parliament or the public – it appears the Minister has hoodwinked us all,” said Ross Bell, Drug Foundation executive director.

Mr Bell criticised the review for ignoring liquor licensing issues and the growing problem of cheap and discounted alcohol, and for leaving alcohol marketing control in the hands of the media and advertising industries.

“Political parties, the public and alcohol agencies expected more from this review. We were all told the review would tackle alcohol availability, visibility, affordability and advertising. We had confidence the review would result in real actions to tackle our drinking culture. Our confidence was misplaced: these proposals lack teeth, they focus narrowly on youth drinking and leave the status quo largely unchanged,” Ross Bell said.

The Drug Foundation says the focus now shifts to Parliament, with MPs from all parties being given the responsibility to ensure the government’s soft proposals are strengthened in the select committee hearings.

“The Minister has misread the level of public concern about alcohol. It’s time for Parliament to show stronger leadership than the Government has, and take bolder action to tackle this serious health issue,” said Ross Bell.

The Drug Foundation has also requested that the amendment bill is sent to the Health Committee for public submissions, rather than the Justice or Law and Order committees.

“Alcohol law is fundamentally about limiting the health and social costs of alcohol, so this bill should be examined by MPs with knowledge of health issues. In fact, the Sale of Liquor Act should be administered by the Ministry of Health, not the Ministry of Justice, just as other health laws such as tobacco and illegal drugs are,” said Ross Bell.

Check these out: See more articles

New report highlights drug policy trends

A new State of the Nation report we released in January 2019 shows that while we are doing well in some areas, there is massive room for imp......

Read More
HOSW launch group photo thumbnail

International Indigenous Drug Policy Network Launched

An new international indigenous network for drug law reform was launched on 27 November at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – The Eighth Gatheri......

Read More

Don't delay acting on synthetic cannabinoids

Winston Peters warns Government officials to take urgent action to stop further deaths from synthetic drugs...

Read More
mos march 2018 chloe swarbrick thumbnail

Q&A: Chlöe Swarbrick

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick speaks to Q&A about her reaction to the medicinal cannabis bill, and what life is like as a new MP...

Read More
Share:
e substance newsletter promotional thumbnail
Subscribe to email updates

Get regular news, analysis and commentary on drugs issues in New Zealand. Free.

Sign up now!

Did You Know resources thumbnail
Talk drugs with young people

Did You Know helps you talk with a young person about drugs -- videos, posters and conversation starter.

Get started