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Thread: Upping the drinking age?

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    Default Upping the drinking age?


    Kiwis 'stuck with 18' for drinking age
    08 September 2006
    By TRACY WATKINS and ANNA CHALMERS

    Supporters of a plan to return the drinking age to 20 are dismayed at Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor's claim that a proposed law change is probably doomed. Mr O'Connor told an alcohol and drug conference in Wellington yesterday that New Zealand was probably "stuck" with the lower drinking age of 18.

    His comments have infuriated supporters of the move to raise the drinking age, as MPs prepare to exercise a conscience vote on the issue expected later this year. The comments have also angered the law and order select committee ? which has been hearing evidence for months on the bill, sparked by concerns that lowering the age has caused an upsurge in youth alcohol problems.

    Committee deputy chairman and NZ First MP Ron Mark said the comment was disappointing, given the complex issues the select committee had been grappling with. "The fact of the matter is that the bill is still before the committee . . . (which) has worked very hard cross-party. It contains some complex issues and it is unfortunate to have a minister making comment about that before it's been reported back to the House."

    Mr O'Connor later issued a statement saying he did not know how MPs would exercise their conscience vote. "I haven't phoned around to find out what they think . . . I did not support the age to come down from 20 to 18 in 1999 but, now that it is, I think we are probably stuck with it."

    Mr O'Connor said he did not advocate lowering the age in 1999 ? but indicated that politically the bill was unlikely to pass. "I think we're stuck with 18. I think we have to push ahead and change the culture (of drinking)."

    Statistics showed that lowering the drinking age had led to increased harm among young people, he said. But a Government review of alcohol, advertising and promotion would "probably cover some of the issues".

    The bill is sponsored by Mr O'Connor's Labour colleague Martin Gallagher ? who said last night he still hoped to change the minister's mind. "It's his view as an MP, it's a conscience vote. I certainly haven't fallen out with Damien. That's my mission ? to change my good mate's mind."

    The Drug Foundation, which supports returning the drinking age to 20, said Mr O'Connor, as the minister responsible for alcohol, was speaking too soon. Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said Mr O'Connor's comments were "not good enough".

    "I don't think the country thinks that being `stuck' with something and not seeing a way forward, is enough." Parliament treated alcohol as a conscious vote and there were 121 MPs who would vote, he said. "We know that 75 per cent of the country supports raising the age."

    Health evidence also supported re-raising the age. "I would much rather (Mr O'Connor) wait till the select committee has made its report and then make his public comments. It is unfortunate."

    Since the bill was drawn last June, there has been a proposal to split it and allow 18-year-olds to continue drinking in bars, but raise the off-licence buying age to 20.

    - The Dominion Post
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    Wonder if this will be a growing trend in NZ?

    Daytime drinking put on 'don't you dare' list

    Monday September 18, 2006
    By Derek Cheng

    A beer or wine over lunch is out for Transpower staff in a crackdown on daytime drinking. "It is so strict that if any staff drink even one glass of alcohol at lunchtime, they are not allowed to return to work that day," said a former Transpower staffer, who did not want to be named. The policy aims to bring office-based staff in line with alcohol restrictions the company demands from its contractors.

    The Public Service Association, which represents workers in the public sector, sees the policy as unnecessary and unwelcome. National secretary Brenda Pilott said she had not heard of a policy so defined in terms of alcohol consumption. Normally employees were simply required to be "fit and able to work".

    "It is a bit of a worry," Ms Pilott said. "If you employ people to do a job, you are employing an adult and you should treat them as adults. And if there are problems, you should deal with them as they arise."

    Transpower spokesman Chris Roberts said the new policy was not being policed. "There's no testing or anything; people are just expected to adhere to the policy. As we require our contractors who work in the field to abstain from alcohol, it's only fair that we require it from our own staff."

    The new alcohol and drug policy was implemented by a staff member with a drink-driving conviction, which aggravated some staff further. The former worker said: "Some are a bit miffed that the Transpower manager who 'owns' the policy and is responsible for it recently got convicted of being 50 per cent over the drink-drive limit."

    The company's human resources general manager, Stuart Low, was convicted for an incident several months ago. His breath-alcohol reading was 609mcg per litre of breath; the legal limit is 400mcg. He was fined $500 and disqualified from driving for six months.

    Mr Low said his drink-driving incident occurred outside of work hours, and the policy and the incident "have nothing to do with each other". Transpower staff had not made any mention of his conviction when asked to comment on the policy, he said. "We gave people, as with all our policies, ample opportunity to comment, and the comments were not unfavourable."

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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    I agree that adults should be expected to behave responsibly, and be able to have a drink at lunch now and again. ...And I do dislike being told what I may or may not do in my free time. However, I think an employer should be able to expect that their employees are alert and competent. Personally, I get sleepy enough in the afternoon, especially after eating, without tossing a drink on top of it. I've had a beer or glass of wine at lunch, and know of which I write. I suspect that Transpower is establishing this policy so that it is easier to discipline those who return from lunch too inebriated to function well.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    MPs to vote on raising drinking age
    11.20am Friday October 20, 2006

    A bill raising the drinking age back to 20 has been given the go ahead by a committee of MPs, and the issue will now be decided by a conscience vote in Parliament. The cross-party law and order select committee released its report on the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill today and recommended that it proceed with only minor changes.

    Parliament voted by a narrow majority in 1999 to lower the drinking age from 20 to 18. The bill to raise it again, drafted by former Progressive Party MP Matt Robson, passed its first reading 78-41 - but a significant number of MPs said they would wait to hear the evidence presented to the committee before making up their minds on whether it should become law.

    A survey released today by Massey University showed 74 per cent of about 750 people questioned supported raising the drinking age. The Drug Foundation has said its own surveys showed about 70 per cent in favour.

    The committee said in its report that it considered 180 submissions, conducted hearings in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, and received advice from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health.

    "The law and order committee examined the bill and recommends that it be passed with the amendments shown," the report said. Those amendments relate only to the way clauses covering liquor advertising have been drafted. The committee had not been expected to deliver a verdict on the drinking age.

    Recommending that the bill be passed puts it back into the debating chamber for a second reading, when there will be a conscience vote - not split on the usual party lines.

    After that it has to go through its committee and third reading stages before becoming law, but the second reading vote will be a good indication of the way MPs feel about it.

    The committee has split the bill into two, one dealing with just the drinking age and the other its provisions around liquor advertising. The proposed changes to advertising include restrictions on TV commercials. One proposed measure is to ban alcohol ads on TV before 10pm. The current regime allows such ads after 8.30pm.

    - NZPA
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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    Law won't end bingeing, say critics
    Saturday October 21, 2006
    By Derek Cheng

    Banning 18-year-olds from buying alcohol again will not be enough to dent the binge-drinking culture, supporters of a law change concede. Prospects of a change improved yesterday when a parliamentary committee recommended raising the legal purchasing age to 20, its pre-1999 level. It also said alcohol advertising on television should be restricted to between 10pm and midnight.

    Supporters - including the Drug Foundation, Alcohol Health-watch and the Alcohol Advisory Council - hailed the committee's report as a positive step.

    Alac chief executive Dr Mike MacAvoy said the report sent a strong signal against the binge-drinking culture, but it raised questions of enforcement. "Those aged between 18 and 20 can still be on licensed premises with a legal guardian, a former guardian, a spouse or a civil union partner ... Any exemption makes it difficult to enforce, and enforcement is absolutely vital to the effectiveness of the act."

    He said raising the age would be an encouraging start, but only a small step towards changing New Zealanders' booze-loving attitudes. "Unless we change the whole drinking culture, we're not likely to get any massive change in drinking behaviour. It's a myth that raising the age will resolve all the problems."

    Opponents of a law change, including the Greens and the Hospitality Association, dismissed the findings as unjust and missing the point. The committee split the legislation into two. The two bills will go back to the debating chamber for a conscience vote next month, then return to the committee and have to pass a third reading before becoming law.

    Under the proposed bill, 18- and 19-year-olds would be able to work on licensed premises, but only drink in bars and restaurants in the company of their parents, guardians or legal partners aged over 20.

    Green Party MP Metiria Turei lambasted the report as careless and feeble. "Part of the argument for raising the age is that, at present, 14- to 17-year-olds have more access to alcohol. But the report says 87 per cent of them are supplied by parents, and so the bill makes specific allowance for parents to continue that."

    The bill would do little to curb the harm alcohol was causing young people. "If the excuse is underage drinking, then deal with that. Don't punish 18- and 19-year-olds because parents are supplying 15-year-olds with alcohol."

    She said it was ridiculous if 18-year-olds, who could get a firearms licence or become members of Parliament, could work in pubs but not drink there. "They can serve and supply alcohol, perform in a band, but once that performance is over, they have to leave."

    Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson called the recommendations patronising. "The majority of 18- and 19-year-olds consume alcohol in a safe and responsible manner and the suggested changes will hammer them unfairly."

    The committee considered 180 submissions, of which 81 supported raising the age and 61 opposed it.


    Proposed bill

    * Raises legal purchasing age from 18 to 20.

    * 18 and 19-year-olds can drink on licensed premises only if accompanied by parents, guardians or legal partners aged over 20. They can still work in bars and licensed restaurants.

    * Parents can still supply alcohol to their children, and people can supply minors for private gatherings.


    Youthful split

    * Ben Schon, 21, Grey Lynn
    I think it should go back up to 20. The youth of today just can't seem to handle it. You only have to look at the destruction that has gone with it.

    * Cassie Abbott, 15, Central Auckland
    I don't think changing it now is going to make much of a difference. They should just leave it the same. How much difference is changing the age really going to make?

    * Kerran MacDonald, 22, Auckland city
    It has to go back up, I believe. There's just been too many issues with it. The 18-year-olds can't deal with it. The maturity just isn't there.

    * Rebecca Crotty-Jones, 16, Mt Albert
    I want it to stay at 18. It is like the Government doesn't trust us. Eighteen-year-olds can sign contracts and whatever else.
    Mother Bear

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    Separate drinking ages for bars and stores considered
    02 November 2006

    MPs will be asked to decide whether to create a split drinking age for liquor purchases from bars and bottle stores when they debate whether to raise the drinking age to 20.

    A parliamentary committee last month gave the go-ahead for a private member's bill that would reverse a 1999 decision to lower the drinking age to 18. The committee chewed over whether to raise the age only for off- licence sales, but decided instead for a blanket age rise.

    National MP Wayne Mapp said yesterday he would put forward an amendment to the bill that would allow 18 and 19-year-olds to continue to drink at licensed premises. "This amendment would put controls on youth drinking without punishing the majority who use alcohol responsibly. Keeping them in controlled environments is much better than forcing them into parks and cars to drink."

    The proposal is likely to find some support among MPs who are uncertain over whether to vote for the age rise and who might see the split age as a compromise. The select committee heard proposals from some submitters who argued a complete change punished sensible 18 and 19-year-old drinkers who managed their alcohol use responsibly.

    Supporters argued that raising the age to 20 years for off-licence premises would help to prevent friends supplying minors with alcohol to be consumed in uncontrolled environments. However, the committee noted that a split age would make enforcement ? a crucial part of ensuring the bill's success ? more complex and difficult.

    It is also noted that a split age may be perceived as inconsistent with the aim of reducing harm to youth from alcohol consumption ? if alcohol is harmful to young people, the place of consumption was irrelevant.

    The Health Ministry did not support the proposal and was not aware of any evidence that a split purchase age reduces alcohol-related harm. It also noted that current host responsibility guidelines were not always followed.

    - The Dominion Post
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    Drinking age stays at 18, review announced
    UPDATED 12.45pm Thursday November 9, 2006
    By Mike Houlahan and NZPA

    The drinking age will remain at 18, after MPs last night voted to maintain the status quo, but campaigners have backed plans for a review of underage drinking.

    Labour Hamilton West MP Martin Gallagher's private member's bill to raise the drinking age to 20 was defeated 72 to 49, partly because of the last-minute Government announcement.

    The review was announced at midday by Justice Minister Mark Burton and Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor, both of whom supported the drinking age remaining at 18. It surprised many MPs and blindsided Mr Gallagher.

    The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) said today it was disappointed at the vote, but welcomed the review.

    Chief executive Mike MacAvoy said: "What the Government has announced, which is a review of access of minors and a first principle review of the Sale of Liquor Act, gives us a great deal broader and better opportunity to really address the issue of alcohol abuse in our society and not just amongst the young."

    Mr Gallagher conceded immediately after the vote that it was looking likely to be lost even before the review was announced.

    "I do remain disappointed that the Parliament didn't at least vote to send it to the committee stages because ultimately the buck does stop with the Parliament ... How many votes that announcement would have swayed, I don't know," he said. "I think the positive is that at least we're not doing nothing."

    He said the review had to have a tight timeframe and strong terms of reference as the problem of alcohol abuse by young people remained, irrespective of the vote. "I personally think we've dropped the ball."

    Real solutions

    Green Party MP Metiria Turei said Parliament could now focus on real solutions for the country's drinking problems. "The legal purchasing age has never been the real issue. It is unrestricted advertising, wide access to alcohol, unrestricted supply of alcohol to very young people and the widely accepted culture of binge drinking that need to be addressed," she said.

    Ms Turei said she hoped MPs would now support her member's bill that would ban all alcohol advertising on television or radio. The Liquor Advertising (Television and Radio) Bill was recently drawn from Parliament's ballot. She said the Government's review was a positive move.

    Several MPs were last night angered that the review had been announced before the debate and conscience vote on the bill.

    "Another committee will not solve the problem, and when the Government puts out a press release on the eve of this debate, I believe they are misleading the public," National North Shore MP Wayne Mapp said. "In truth, to change the culture you actually have to change the law. We've seen that in many other areas of our lives. Changing the law changes the culture and acceptance of the way people behave."

    Christopher Bishop, spokesman for the Keep It 18 campaign, said he was delighted at the wide margin in favour of retaining the status quo. "Seventy-two MPs voted for personal responsibility tonight, and they voted to recognise that problems with youth drinking in New Zealand can't be solved with a simplistic, kneejerk legislative sledgehammer like this bill."

    National Rangitikei MP Simon Power said the bill contained numerous inconsistencies. "The bill is still very badly flawed and represents in my view very poor law. This bill will badly confuse the current law on the purchase of alcohol ... this bill does nothing for the supply of alcohol or for the consumption of alcohol. This bill only relates to the purchase age and nothing else."

    Progressive leader Jim Anderton said MPs were challenged with making a difference for the health and well-being of teenage New Zealanders. "The single most destructive drug in New Zealand, and I speak as the minister in charge of the Government's drug policy, is alcohol, by a country mile," Mr Anderton said. "The single biggest predictor of criminal behaviour in New Zealand is the use and abuse of alcohol."

    New Zealand First MP Ron Mark pleaded for MPs to pass the bill's second reading so they could then consider it clause by clause. "We must always remember that when there are a group of young people who step up and demand their rights in terms of being allowed to drink at the age of 18 and 19, they are not the only voices worth listening to."

    - NZPA
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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    I try not to be negative or a whinger, I very much like New Zealand and want to stay here warts and all, but - this lame duck government is an absolute waste of air and space in that it lacks the will to do anything that might 'rock the boat'. This vote flys in the face of a now disgruntled public since no less than 75% of them wanted the age raised back to 20. The number includes the motoring organisations, youth groups, schools and the like. The trouble here is that the youngsters have a vote at the next election.
    Similarly legislation restricting permission to drive is fudged and eventually forgotten; meanwhile kiwi kids are not only killing themselves but also innocent victims of their on road behaviour. Noise and pollution from vehicles are also reviewed and largely ignored. The same old vote eh?
    Here in Auckland the government is pushing, without public consultation, to build Aoteroa Stadium off a prominent wharf in Auckland. You will find it difficult to find a single Aucklander who doesn't think that the idea is too expensive, too fanciful, too ridiculous, for words. Warnings have been loudly sounded throughout the media about Tsunamis, the cost of moving the existing wharfside business down shore, the problems of parking and noise pollution which will affect the North Shore residents. The project which will, mark my words, go through as the government wishes,it will NOT be finished on time, it WILL go horrendously over budget, and is a monument to this silly government.
    The real problems of course arise from the system of voting which gives us a potage of the people we really want and those whom they select to join them. I learned, many years ago, in a college module "Government and Politics", that 3rd term goverment is devoid of courage as well as will and has long since run out of ideas or the motivation to pursue them - look at the once popular Labour government in the UK. The 'saviour' is now villified and the party struggles internally to rip itself apart.
    Who thinks that whoever leads the party after Blair will win the next general election?

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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    I agree that the government has become very wishy-washy and seems to be letting the country just run itself. ?More notice should be taken of the population's views. ?If more than 70 per cent of the population want the drinking age to go up then it should, whoever is in or aiming for the Beehive. ?

    There is also no excuse for not raising the driving age. ?Fifteen year olds do not vote and putting the age to 17 or 18 should not affect any loss of votes. ?If kids want a car to go to work at 16, then they should get a lift with someone else, take the bus, or get on their bike or moped like they do elsewhere in the world. ?Teachers I have spoken to say that getting a car is on most 15 year old's mind, many get an afterschool or weekend job, and many have no time for homework or revision ... so they flunk school. It is just not good for the country.

    Continuing ... the waterfront stadium is an absolute eye-sore and will ruin downtown Auckland!!! ?For those who have not seen it, look at http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,...6a4621,00.html - it looks like a giant white tyre. ?What on earth is going through their minds?
    >:( ? ?

    Glenda
    In NZ since June 2005
    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Chinese proverb

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    Default Re: Upping the drinking age?

    Over the past couple of weeks, my 16 year old son has been telling me that he is going to have to buy a new tyre for his moped, the front tyre is 'bubbling'. Only three weeks ago he had to replace the rear tyre for the same reason. The front tyre in addition, has twice pulled free of the rim. Today I examined his tyres and, thinking they were a bit hard, asked him what the tyre pressures were. He told me that they are 36psi front and rear. Considering that this is higher than my car tyre pressures I asked him what his handbook recommended. He pointed to the tyre where it said max load 36psi and told me that we didn't need to look at the handbook. Needless to say I insisted that we find his handbook (under a pile of rubbish in the garage), which elicited the information that the pressures should be 18.9psi at front and 25.6psi at the rear. Despite being shown this and warned of the inherent dangers of overpressure tyres, not just bubbling and pulling away from rims- I had to order the know-all to take the moped to the local garage to correct the pressures. Oh and incidentally, having driven his mate's car around the paddock in second gear without hitting anything he has confidently announced that he can drive now. He even asked his mother iif he could drive her Honda Prestige V6. This dipstick is a typical example of kids his age and what they think they can do. A very real problem is that they confuse virtual reality as produced by the X box with reality eg. you can't crash a car at 150mph and then get up and drive off again.
    OOh I am off on a rant aren't I?

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