Dalziel keen to back booze crackdown


Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel wants to add her name to the list of New Zealanders calling on the incoming government to crackdown on harmful boozing.

On Thursday, the mayor will ask Christchurch City councillors to endorse her signing of the Call for Alcohol Action statement that asks the incoming government to introduce new laws to phase out alcohol advertising and sponsorship and increase the price of alcohol through the introduction of minimum unit prices and higher taxes.

She will be the first New Zealand mayor to sign the statement.

It has already been signed by top health professionals and university heads, as well as the leaders of major churches.

In a report outlining her reasons for wanting to sign the Call for Alcohol Action, Dalziel said there was compelling evidence in New Zealand's crime and health statistics that heavy episodic drinking was causing significant harm and placing a substantial burden on justice, health and social services. It also affected absenteeism and productivity.

"Extensive international research identifies that alcohol needs to be more effectively regulated in order to bring about change in the heavy drinking culture. The strongest levers include restrictions on affordability, availability and accessibility of alcohol," the mayor said.

New Zealanders now spend an estimated $85 million a week on alcohol and it is believed that more than two-thirds of all alcohol in New Zealand is being consumed at harmful or hazardous levels.

Close to 1000 New Zealanders a year are estimated to die from alcohol-attributable causes and alcohol has been associated with a third of police recorded offences.

Alcohol Action NZ spokesman Professor Doug Sellman said Dalziel had been an important advocate for alcohol reform while she was an MP. He hoped Dalziel's signing would encourage other mayors and councillors around the country to follow suit.

"The more New Zealand leaders who do sign it the more the Government will respond. It's really important because they're going to give a signal to the Government that is going to counter the enormous lobbying and signals the alcohol industry gives the Government."

The Press