Father wants action on internet alcohol sales

Last updated 05:00 01/01/2014
gavin holmes
CHRIS HILLCOCK
NOT HAPPY: Gavin Holmes wants action on internet alcohol sales.

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Justice Minister Judith Collins is being accused of having a "rather ostrich-like attitude" to online sales of alcohol to minors by the father of an underage teen caught buying vodka online.

Hamilton East parent Gavin Holmes, who went public in December on his son's purchase of a $29.99 bottle of vodka sold via The Mill's website, said he was worried about the minister's attitude.

Ms Collins' private secretary Melanie Tuala said the Government would monitor the situation for two years.

"I accept what the justice minister's private secretary says regarding the recent changes to the Licensing Act regarding the purchaser's responsibility, but equally it is now also an offence for anyone to supply alcohol to underage persons without parental permission. The websites have become even more vulnerable to prosecution now."

Police asked The Mill to make changes to its website, which required buyers to confirm twice that they were over 18, and the company responded by asking visitors to fill in their date of birth during their first visit to the website.

"In respect of her assertion that they will review the situation in two years time, that is way too late as, in the police's opinion, the horse bolted from the stable at least a decade ago.

The "two tick system" is ineffective and basically leaving the security situation as it is, is ignoring a government brokered resource, the realme.co.nz system that puts the onus on the purchaser to provide proof of eligibility for service; it just requires the alcohol industry to accept its responsibility for proof of internet age restrictions and adopt this existing technology."

Mr Holmes said The Mill had to be kidding if it believed only two underage people had ever bought alcohol though its website, as claimed by general manager Bevan Seddon in an interview with the Times.

"While fully accepting that underage teenagers purchasing alcohol over the internet are breaking the law, it is the ease with which they are able to do this that I have a major problem with. The current, ineffective, security on alcohol websites allows underage people to bypass it without any physical checks whatsoever," Mr Holmes said.

"As parents are unable to absolutely control underage children's internet access short of a complete ban, I believe what they currently do would not stand up to legal scrutiny in a face-to-face situation. In a face-to-face retail situation, in some supermarkets, when a group of people attempt to purchase alcohol, if any of the group are underage, the retailer reserves the right to refuse the sale."

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- Waikato Times

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