MPs want to keep alcohol age at 18

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 12:00 16/08/2012

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Both Marlborough-based MPs intend to vote to keep the purchase age for alcohol at 18.

Parliament is expected to vote on parts of the Alcohol Reform Bill next week, and MPs will have a conscience vote on whether to keep the purchase age at 18, move it back up to 20, or split the age to 18 for on-license venues such as bars and restaurants and 20 for off-licenses such as supermarkets and bottle stores.

Kaikoura MP Colin King said he would be voting to keep the drinking age at 18.

He felt other measures were better at addressing alcohol problems than age restrictions. Such measures included local authority rules and regulations around liquor ban areas, hours of availability, and scrutinising purchasers' ages in supermarkets and bottle stores.

"Being a rural MP, I know there is a lot of young people out there working, who are exposed to alcohol. If we change the law, we are going to make them criminals."

Green Party list MP Steffan Browning, who is Marlborough-based, said he would be voting to hold the drinking age at 18 as it stands now.

"Addressing availability, pricing, and advertising are more effective at restricting alcohol harm than restricting by age," he said.

"Alcohol-related harm affects people of all ages."

Mr Browning said young people were making all sorts of decisions at 18, including voting, so it was wrong to say they were too immature to drink.

He argued a culture change was needed.

"We need a serious look at our whole culture. Prohibition has never really been an effective tool."

Mr King said this was the first time in recent history there was a law to restrict access to alcohol. Previously, the laws were all about liberalising access.

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- The Marlborough Express

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