Key says alcohol ad ban unlikely to go ahead
John Key says he would be "extremely surprised" if a far-reaching ban on alcohol sponsorship and advertising went ahead.
A ministerial forum on alcohol advertising and sponsorship has put forward a raft of recommendations - including a ban on alcohol companies sponsoring sports teams and events.
Organisers of major Marlborough events that rely on sponsorship from the wine industry, including the Forrest GrapeRide and Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon, have said their future would be threatened if the recommendations were implemented.
In response to a question by Kent Winstanley during a meeting of young professionals in Blenheim on Friday, Key said the proposal was at an early stage.
"I'd be extremely surprised if it progresses very far.
"We could turn around tomorrow and say it's illegal for wineries to sponsor the local rugby team and things like that ... .
"The problem you've got is, where is the money going to come from for those organisations?"
It was "nonsense" to say that government would help to make up the shortfall, Key said.
"The government makes that case all the time and it doesn't happen."
As well as removing alcohol sponsorship from sports, the recommendations call for alcohol sponsorship to be removed from cultural and music events where at least 10 per cent of those taking part are under 18.
Alcohol advertising would be banned, including on social media, where 10 per cent or more of the audience are aged under 18.
Key questioned how effective the measures would be.
"Does it really impact that much at the margins in terms of people drinking responsibly?
"I think there's a strong argument for us to continue to educate youngsters about drinking responsibly, but ultimately the fact that Villa Maria might want to be getting its brand name out there, or Cloudy Bay, or whoever - well good on them.
"I'm going to be pretty opposed to dramatic changes there."
Speaking after the meeting, Kent Winstanley said he was happy with the prime minister's response to his question.
The recommendations were particularly concerning for people living in Marlborough, Winstanley said.
"It's quite significant for sporting people and teams."
Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the comments from Key were good news.
"It's encouraging but we have to wait for the process to unfold."
Key was in Blenheim to open the new Marlborough Community Health Hub.
- The Marlborough Express