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New Zealand is on the brink of some of the most significant amendments to its alcohol laws, but communities need to speak up about their desire for change.

That’s the message alcohol law reform proponents want to drive home, with only ten days left for public submissions on the Alcohol Reform Bill.

New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell said he was pleased with many aspects of the Bill, which is the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s liquor law review, but that it fell short in a number of important areas.

“The Law Commission made 153 law change recommendations, which reflects just how serious New Zealand’s binge-drinking culture has become.

“While the Government has adopted a good number of these, it has danced around and obfuscated on issues like raising the price, restricting advertising and lowering the blood alcohol limit for driving.

“Why should we expect our drinking culture will improve while alcohol remains as cheap as chips, and is beamed into our living rooms every day as the fountainhead of all happiness?”

Mr Bell is encouraging the public to make submissions to the Justice and Electoral Committee while there is still time.

“No doubt the Government is under a lot of pressure from industry lobbyists to leave things as they are. They need to hear from people at grass-roots level that families and communities are really hurting from alcohol abuse, and that changing our attitude towards alcohol is more important than the industry’s profit margins.

“New Zealand has a wonderful democratic system of government, and most of our politicians do care what people think. If they receive a strong enough impression of the public mood for change, there’s every chance the Alcohol Reform Bill will be strengthened and that things can really be different in New Zealand in the future.”

Mr Bell said submissions do not have to be long or complicated, and can be made online at the New Zealand Parliament website.

Submissions close 18 February 2011.

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