Sparks fly among MPs over booze label bill

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2012

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A Hamilton MP lauded a veteran campaigner fighting the evils of alcohol before voting against a bill aimed at putting warning labels on alcohol.

Tim Macindoe, National MP for Hamilton West, praised Cliff Turner in Parliament on Thursday night for his 30-year campaign against liquor advertising before voting with his party against Hamilton-based Labour list MP Sue Moroney's supplementary order to amend National's Alcohol Reform Bill.

Ms Moroney wanted warning labels on the dangers of foetal alcohol syndrome made mandatory on alcoholic drinks, as well as nutritional information so that people could see what they were putting into their bodies.

Pregnant women are advised to drink no alcohol as it can cause brain damage to the baby, stunt foetal growth and cause other physical defects.

Her amendments were defeated by three votes, 61 to 58.

Ms Moroney, speaking to her amendments in Parliament, accused Mr Macindoe of crying crocodile tears over the issue and urged him to put his money where his mouth was.

"Will he do that? . . . How he votes will show whether he is genuine about the issues . . . I am tired of hearing members of the Government go out in the public to try and sound like they are addressing the issue in the most comprehensive way [yet] when they come to Parliament they vote against very sensible and practical measures to actually fix the very issues that they claim to be concerned about."

Mr Macindoe, who spoke ahead of Ms Moroney in the House and left before she spoke, accused her of "a lot of spin" and wanting "five minutes in the sun".

"As far as I am concerned I have put my money where my mouth is," he said.

Mr McIndoe's own amendment, to raise the age of legal purchase of alcohol from 18 to 20, was defeated in August despite support from Ms Moroney.

If it had been passed, he said, Ms Moroney's aims would have been met.

However, changing labels would breach an agreement New Zealand had with Australia.

Mr Turner said he was disgusted with National's stance, which overturned the amendments by a few votes, and he had lost respect for Mr Mcindoe.

"It makes me wonder what type of person can vote against a proposal that would have cost the taxpayer nothing," Mr Turner said. "There are hundreds of children born every year effected by their mother's choice to drink while she was pregnant. But National is more concerned about the health of the liquor industry rather than the health of the nation."

David Bennett, National's member for Hamilton East, also voted against Ms Moroney's supplementary order by proxy because he was out of town.

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When asked by the Times what he thought of Ms Moroney's proposal he said: "What was her amendment again?"

He said he had voted with his party because the amendment had been through the committee process and not been backed there.

- Waikato Times

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