Hon SIMON POWER (Minister of Justice)
: I move,
That the Alcohol Reform Bill be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I will move that the bill be referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee for consideration. This bill is the Government’s legislative response to the Law Commission’s report on alcohol legislation,
Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm. I acknowledge the Law Commission’s review, the Hon Lianne Dalziel’s original referral to the Law Commission, and the commission’s effort, at my request, to report back a year earlier than planned.
New Zealand needs a safe and responsible drinking culture. The late 1980s saw liberalisation of the sale of alcohol to create a so-called European-style moderate drinking culture. Further changes followed in 1999. It is clear that those changes have
not worked. Excessive drinking and intoxication contributes to our crime rate and our injury rate, and affects our general health. It impacts on workplace productivity and contributes to family violence and child abuse. The direct cost to the Government of alcohol-related harm in New Zealand has been put as high as $1.2 billion per year. The costs to New Zealand society are significantly greater. But we must achieve a balance. Addressing harm must be weighed against the positive benefits associated with responsible drinking. The Government’s approach is, therefore, a considered, integrated, and balanced package that targets harm without penalising responsible drinkers.
This is a large bill, but its objectives are simple. It zeroes in on alcohol-related harm, crime, disorder, and public health problems, especially where our young people are concerned. It aims to reduce excessive drinking and improve the operation of the alcohol licensing system, including community input on licensing, and to support the responsible sale, supply, and safe consumption of alcohol. Licences will be harder to get and easier to lose. There will be more scope to object to applications and more grounds to decline them. The bill targets the proliferation of off-licences and clarifies the premises able to sell takeaway alcohol. Buying beer at the so-called corner dairy will end as these licences expire, with no chance for renewal. Just as now, supermarkets will be able to sell beer and wine, but not spirits.
The Government recognises that different communities have different needs, best understood by local people. This bill empowers communities to address local issues like the concentration, location, and opening hours of alcohol outlets. These are local alcohol policies. Where there is no local trading-hours policy, maximum national trading hours will be 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. for on-licences, clubs, and special licences, and 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. for off-licences. Licensed decision makers will be able to set hours within and up to the maximum hours for individual licences. The only way the maximum hours can be changed is by communities, through a local alcohol policy. The bill provides a small exception for Anzac Day, but there is no other provision for extension of the hours, even for nationally important or, for that matter, major televised events. I expect this issue will be the subject of careful scrutiny at the select committee. The bill focuses strongly on the high and disproportionate harm caused by youth drinking. Risky drinking behaviour is becoming increasingly normalised, especially among our young people. The Government is not prepared to stand by and allow excessive and harmful alcohol consumption to be further ingrained into our culture.
The Alcohol Reform Bill sets a foundation for change. It pulls a number of levers to reduce the availability of, and demand for, alcohol. Perhaps the most significant proposal is a split purchase age. The bill increases the off-licence purchase age from 18 to 20, while keeping the on-premises age at 18. This proposal is a starting point for debate. I expect the select committee will carefully consider any enforcement or employment complexities of a split purchase age. Supplying alcohol to minors without parental consent or in an irresponsible manner will be an offence. Responsible supply means that common sense, host responsibility, adult supervision, the age of minors, the quantity and duration of supply, and the availability of food are particular considerations. This aims to encourage parental and individual responsibility for supply to minors, and give parents greater control over the supply of alcohol to their children. I expect that the definitions surrounding these matters will be the subject of some discussion also at the select committee.
Ready-to-drink alcohol has a strong appeal to young people, and, therefore, a high potential for harm to this group. This bill enables the Government to regulate the size and strength of ready-to-drinks. We have proposed limits of 5 percent alcohol content and 1.5 standard drinks per ready-to-drink. Due to existing agreements with Australia, a regulation-making process is needed to allow for required consultation. It will also
ensure that accurate definitions are developed. This bill adopts, further, stage one of the Law Commission’s advertising recommendations. It strengthens the existing offence of promoting excessive consumption of alcohol by making it apply to any business. It will be an offence to promote or advertise alcohol that is free of charge, to offer any goods or services on the condition that alcohol is purchased, to promote or advertise alcohol in a manner likely to have special appeal to minors, and to promote discounts on alcohol that could imply it is 25 percent cheaper than normal, unless on licensed premises. I will be closely monitoring the submissions on advertising. The adoption of stage one of the Law Commission’s proposals is a starting point for Parliament’s discussion on alcohol advertising, and the Government is not ruling out making further changes in the future.
The bill also revises the criteria for creating liquor ban by-laws, so that liquor bans are focused on areas where there is evidence of alcohol-related harm. Importantly, and significantly, the bill widens the definition of public places for liquor bans to include spaces like car parks and schools that the public can legitimately access. The bill introduces a more responsive penalty for breaching a liquor ban, with the possibility of it being in the form of an instant fine issued on the spot or after arrest. Other enforcement changes include a provision for the automatic cancellation of a manager’s certificate for 5 years when a manager is found to have seriously breached his or her licence three times within 3 years.
Finally, the bill enables the Minister of Justice, in consultation with the Minister of Health, to ban particular alcohol products considered to be particularly dangerous to health or particularly attractive to minors, subject to standard regulations processes. The Government continues to investigate minimum alcohol prices. I said when I announced these proposals that retailers would have a year to provide sales and price data, after which regulation could be likely. I will advise by the end of the year what information is required and by when. Legislation alone will not change our excessive drinking culture. It can, however, help us to develop a safe and responsible drinking culture supported by robust public education and treatment interventions.
For those many New Zealanders who have a very real interest in this particular subject matter, now is the time. This is the moment when submissions should be made to the select committee to make those views heard. This forum, over at least a 6-month period, will provide the place for the public to have their say on this very complex, difficult, but essential issue for Parliament to consider. I am confident that this bill will help bring down our levels of alcohol-related harm. I am confident that the public will respond to Parliament’s intention to hear their views on this issue. I commend this bill to the House.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Labour—Christchurch East)
: As the former Associate Minister of Justice who introduced the bill that the Alcohol Reform Bill replaces, and who helped write the very broad terms of reference for the most in-depth inquiry into our alcohol laws that New Zealand has ever seen, I should be standing in this House today to describe this bill as a tribute to the members of the Law Commission and the more than 3,000 New Zealanders who made their views known to it. It is a travesty that I cannot, but the truth is that this bill does not even begin to meet the challenge posed by the evidence that the Law Commission presented to the Government about what needs to be done.
I wanted that report and I wanted the Law Commission to write the bill—and now I know why the Government did not give it time to do so—so that MPs collectively could have said to the public that they had introduced a bill based on the evidence about what needs to be done and were now calling on the public to respond to that. They could have let the political considerations and the application of the conscience vote come into play once those submissions were heard, but instead we have a Government that decides to
gut the Law Commission’s report in the shape of a Government bill that adds very little to the bill that I introduced over 2 years ago.
About half a dozen matters are contained in this bill that were not in the bill that I introduced on behalf of the Government of the day. It was the bill that this Government took to a select committee and has allowed to languish there, going nowhere. Every single one of the additional matters in the bill that we have today—every single one of them—could have been dealt with by way of a Supplementary Order Paper to the original bill because they are all within the scope of that bill. The Minister of Justice spoke about local alcohol plans. I chipped in to say what a good idea and that I wished I had thought of that. It was in the bill of 2 years ago that we had local alcohol plans.
The Government has completely failed to acknowledge the unprecedented community response to the harm that alcohol has wrought on communities. There have been marches in the street against the granting of yet another liquor licence, from one end of the country to the other. Thousands have attended meetings organised by what started as a small group of health professionals who saw the real costs that alcohol imposes on our health system—$1.2 billion a year. The Minister must be joking if he thinks that is the extent of the harm that we all pay for from our tax dollars. There are healthy city and safer city networks from one end of the country to the other. They have to highlight the property damage that occurs in their communities. There are the unsafe environments in city centres where intoxicated people gather, weekend after weekend. There are individuals like Dr Albert Makary from Timaru, who puts his own resources into a campaign to win hearts and minds about this issue, which he sees destroying families and communities. This Government has completely underestimated the level of community awareness of the extent of the problem and what needs to be done to curb the harm. I use the phrase “curb the harm”, because that is the title of the Law Commission report,
Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm, which sees so few of its recommendations in this bill.
I am probably one of the few MPs who have read every page of the Law Commission report, but after looking at this bill, I ask what the point of that was. All it really did was to show me how little has been done in response to that report. The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council must be slapping itself on the back, knowing that it now has more influence than the Law Commission—and it does not even have to provide the evidence to back up its contribution to the problem, which is enormous.
Everyone who is anyone has described this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grapple with the multitude of alcohol-related problems that must be addressed. This Government has said that it is OK to squander that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it is not OK. I think that is a very good line to use in this debate, because of the correlation between alcohol use and domestic violence. It is not OK.
There are four elements that would have been in this bill, had the Government been truly willing to deal with the real issues, instead of the sham we have seen of side-swiping and sidelining issues, such as getting us to look at age as an important issue. Age is not the top issue, at all. The four issues are price, the rampant commercialisation of alcohol and its treatment as an ordinary commodity, advertising and marketing, and dangerous drink-driving counter measures.
When I say “price”, I will not be arguing for an across-the-board increase in price through tax. Excise tax is very useful for several purposes, but it is next to useless, in the face of the power of supermarkets, to put up the price of alcohol, regardless of an increase in excise tax. The priority is to increase the price of dirt-cheap alcohol, and that is why I am arguing for minimum pricing. I refer to the $5.99 bottles of wine. At that price, three young women can buy five bottles of wine to preload on, rather than buy two bottles of very good wine for the same price. The ones who buy five bottles of
$5.99 wine are the most price-sensitive buyers. They are the ones who will change their behaviour when prices go up. Do not let anyone tell us that it will do otherwise. That is the reason for a minimum price per standard drink. The $2 per minimum standard drink price would not touch a $15 bottle of wine. That would stay the same price, but it would slightly more than double the price of the $5.99 bottle of wine.
The second issue, the rampant commercialisation of alcohol, is evident by the fact that alcohol is usually the first thing we see when we enter a supermarket these days. We do not have to wait to get to the alcohol aisles, because the supermarket has specials right at the front door, ready to greet us and to remind us that this is the place where dirt-cheap alcohol gets poured into the community.
Supermarkets do not break the law. I never understood the role of supermarkets when I was Associate Minister of Justice, and it is the one thing I regret from that time. Supermarkets make it their business not to break the law, and I know why. It is because they have a licence to print money. Supermarkets have no responsibility for what happens when their liquor leaves the premises. They are not responsible for their actions. They do not have to take responsibility, and they do not.
Politicians have allowed supermarkets to sell wine as a matter of convenience. I was not here when that decision was made, but I would have voted against it. We let supermarkets sell beer as a matter of convenience as well, but that has driven down prices and increased availability, and supermarkets can legally wash their hands of the fallout that has occurred. If the public of New Zealand told us, as politicians, that the trade-off has been too great—convenience for harm—then I would vote to take alcohol out of the supermarkets. It is convenient to buy wine at the supermarket; I do it myself. But the price that we have had to pay for that as a nation is this: the cutthroat, loss-leading, deep-discounting, retail practices of a sector that does not care about what happens out there in the community. It is no wonder the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council has done so well out of this legislation.
Advertising alcohol makes not one bit of difference to the drinking culture—Yeah, right! I am a real fan of irony. “Yeah, right!” advertises beer, but “Yeah, right!” advertising of alcohol makes not one bit of difference to the drinking culture! It will not make one bit of difference until we frame alcohol as a recreational drug, as New Zealand’s No. 1 recreational drug, which it is, and recognise that marketing its consumption and over-consumption runs counter-intuitive to minimising the harm objectives that any regulatory framework governing the legal supply of such a product must have.
Finally, I turn to dangerous drink-driving counter-measures, which focus on impairment. Most New Zealanders have been horrified to find out how much a person can drink whilst still legally being able to drive. Albert Makary, when on stage in Timaru, asked a National MP and I to come on stage carrying the door of a car. I had a real sense of dread that he was going to tell us that someone who had been behind that car door had died. But he did not. It was his daughter who had been in the car. She almost died, but so many do die. We have to take further measures on our roads to protect people from the harm that occurs.
The night that I was on stage in Timaru I answered a question that Albert Makary had asked. He asked why politicians will not change laws such as lowering the blood-alcohol concentration from 0.08 grams to 0.05 grams and establishing a minimum price for alcohol. I said it was because we, the politicians, lacked courage. Courage is what we must have. When this bill comes back from the select committee, hopefully strengthened by the submissions that are received, we must have the courage to make a difference.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for ACC)
: I commend the Minister of Justice, Simon Power, for the very considered way in which he has brought together this sensible package of alcohol reform.
History is littered with ideological lurches on alcohol law here and abroad. We have had Prohibition, the 6 o’clock swill, and the ultra-liberalisation that was brought in with the Sale of Liquor Act in 1989. The part I found most ironic about Lianne Dalziel’s contribution is that I remember sharing a platform with her, way back in the 1990s, where she championed the 1989 Sale of Liquor Act that she has just spent the last 10 minutes rubbishing. Do members know who the key Ministers were? Annette King and Phil Goff were the key Labour members who put in place the Sale of Liquor Act back in 1989. Those are the sorts of ideological lurches that we get from the left, rather than common-sense reform.
This reform package is balanced, it is pragmatic, and it is thorough. In contrast with what Lianne Dalziel has tried to say, it picks up 126 of the 153 recommendations in the Law Commission report. It will make a difference in reducing the harm from alcohol in our community, without our becoming a bunch of wowsers and without our imposing penalties on the vast bulk of New Zealanders, who have a beer or a glass of wine without causing harm.
My interest in this issue is both as a constituency MP in Nelson and as the Minister for ACC. Nelson has had a sad surge in violence over the past 6 months, and most incidents were connected to the abuse of alcohol. Nelson is no worse than many other communities, but I can tell members that the population has had enough and is expecting us to act. It wants a Government to tackle not just crime but the causes of crime.
As Minister for ACC, I have become far more aware of the real fiscal cost of alcohol abuse to our country. Drink-driving is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly one-quarter of all accidents, falls, drownings, and assaults—costing the Accident Compensation Corporation $650 million a year—have alcohol as a contributing factor.
I like the part of the Alcohol Reform Bill about stricter licensing. The 1989 laissez-faire approach has not worked. We have too many booze outlets, particularly in some of our most vulnerable communities. I also back the tough approach taken to ready-to-drinks, or RTDs. The academic may argue that the form of alcohol sold does not matter, but the reality is that high-alcohol ready-to-drinks are behind some of the worst abuse. The advantage of lower-alcohol drinks is simply that the bladder starts to fail before the brain does.
I also back the measures in this bill around the drinking age. I voted for the age of 18 in 1998, but I am happy to put my hand up and say that I got it wrong. I believe that I and Parliament totally underestimated the degree to which the age being 18 has enabled 17, 16, and 15-year-olds—and 14 and 13-year-olds, actually—to access alcohol. The strength of this bill is that it makes it an offence to supply alcohol to under-18-year-olds, it puts some onus on host responsibility, and it allows only on-licence sales to 18 and 19-year-olds.
I also back the provision in this bill that gives our councils far greater discretion over local alcohol laws. There are some areas where the sensible approach is national regulation. I am talking about things like cellphone towers—in terms of my environment portfolio—vehicle standards, and building standards. But the reality is that alcohol is an inherently local issue. What is best for the Viaduct Basin in Auckland, for Queenstown, or for the community of a suburban street in Nelson is quite different, and it is quite appropriate that we empower communities to make their own choices in terms of tourism, hospitality, and harm-reduction. I recognise that different rules are quite appropriate for different neighbourhoods. The extension of alcohol liquor bans as part
of what councils can do through their by-laws is exactly the sort of practical measure in this bill that we need to put in place if we are to reduce harm.
Hundreds of changes are proposed by this bill. As the Minister has said, it is not the last word. The community need the opportunity to have their say on these proposals, and this bill is a very good starting point for that debate. The Government is committed to listening carefully during the select committee process.
There is no question about direction. We need to tighten our alcohol laws. We need to work hard to get the detail right so we better manage the harm caused by alcohol and build a more responsible culture in the way we use alcohol in New Zealand. I commend the work of the Minister, and the bill, to the House.
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Leader—Progressive)
: The only reason I will vote for the Alcohol Reform Bill to be referred to a select committee is so that the Government can experience the public’s outrage at the abject weakness of its cringing approach to one of New Zealand’s most significant social and economic problems and the damage that alcohol abuse causes to New Zealand and New Zealanders.
What would a 9-point plan on how the Government of New Zealand could create a major social problem in New Zealand look like? Well, first it would take a drug that is known to be of high risk to public health, for example the equivalent of a class B drug, and legalise it. Better still, it would choose a drug that is known to directly cause aggression and depression, and is neurotoxic and carcinogenic, so that the full range of health and social damage is likely to occur. Secondly, the Government would deny that the drug is actually a drug, by never mentioning the word and by talking about it as though it were a normal grocery item that people would naturally expect to find in a supermarket. Thirdly, the Government would make it really accessible so that it can be bought just about anywhere, at any time, on virtually any day of the year, especially in supermarkets.
Fourthly, the Government would allow full and free commercialisation of it, so that the price is really low in order for everyone to easily afford lots of it. Fifthly, the Government would make sure that young people of 18 years of age can legally drink on licensed premises, but it would confuse the issue by requiring them to be 20 years old in order to buy alcohol to drink elsewhere. Sixth, it would elevate the pushing of this drug to be one of the most highly respected careers in the land. The bestowing of New Zealand honours, even a knighthood, to industry leaders, would be a good start and be very effective in promoting it.
Seventh, the Government would make sure that it protected the drug pushers’ right to promote the drug, especially to the nation’s families, through the most powerful means possible, such as television and billboards. It would turn a blind eye to any deception in the advertising, such as links between the drug and being cool, sexy, successful, and part of the in-crowd. Eighth, the Government would make sure that the drug is linked with everything that New Zealanders feel most proud of, especially sport. If there is to be a major international event in New Zealand—dare I mention the Rugby World Cup—the Government would do everything it can to help the drug pushers promote their drug at the event. The ultimate would be if the drug becomes the centrepiece of the event—party central would be an excellent concept to work on, and it would also be a great idea to get the Prime Minister behind it. Ninth, knowing that New Zealanders, more than people in just about any other country in the world, enjoy getting around in private motor vehicles, make sure that intoxication will not prevent them from driving their cars and get one’s mates in the Automobile Association to back that position.
The first page of the Law Commission report states: “Alcohol is a legalised drug with the potential to cause serious harm. We propose”—that is, the Law Commission—“a new policy framework that amounts to a paradigm shift in the regulation of alcohol
compared with the current system. We anticipate there will be considerable resistance to some of the proposed measures.” Well, the last outfit I thought would be the most resistant is the Government of New Zealand, given the evidence in front of its eyes.
The Government’s Alcohol Reform Bill to reduce excessive drinking is simply a recipe for the status quo, which means continuing disaster. Last weekend’s appalling behaviour at Eden Park, where a liquor ban was not enforced, is proof that the Government has not gone far enough. My belief is that submissions to the select committee will show the Government how the people of New Zealand really feel about that. It served to highlight the inadequacies in our current laws and it shamed our nation abroad.
Why does this Government have difficulty accepting that alcohol is a drug? This Government is not in step with the majority of New Zealanders. The mood of the country towards alcohol abuse is changing, but it is being led by the public and the media, not by the Government. In the same week as the Eden Park shambles, organisers of Christchurch’s New Zealand Trotting Cup got it right by implementing a simple wristband system, whereby wristbands were removed from patrons thought to be intoxicated. This would have been unheard of even 3 or 4 years ago. It shows that the public is willing to change entrenched drinking habits.
Who would have thought that the Māori Affairs Committee’s proposal for a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025 would cause hardly a ripple of protest? It is because the time is right. Let us aim for a drunk-free New Zealand, too. That is in step with public opinion. Seventy percent of New Zealanders support the proposition to lower the drink-driving blood-alcohol limit, yet the Government needs “more research”. Really? What is this Government scared of, in face of all the facts? What is this Government scared of, in face of all the facts and the political polls, which show that the New Zealand population is for the reduction in alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse costs this country billions of dollars every year. The $1.6 billion that the Minister quoted is really just the tip of the iceberg. This Government is almost always a slave to polls, yet it is ignoring the poll on liquor reform, and I have to ask myself why. Cheap alcohol is one of the main problems but it is not being addressed, despite advice and research from New Zealand and international experts. Our road death statistics, particularly since the age at which people can purchase alcohol and drink alcohol on licensed premises was lowered to 18, are simply horrific. Reducing the blood-alcohol level from 0.8 to 0.5 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood evidently still needs “more research”. How many more deaths caused by drink-driving must this nation endure before a Government shows the remotest sense of responsibility and courage in addressing the issue?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Where were you for 9 years?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I ask Mr Smith to look at my record of voting on this matter; it will be better than his, I bet him. One in every five New Zealanders is a heavy drinker. That is equal to the combined populations of Wellington and Christchurch. I still hear people say that this is a small problem for a small group of New Zealanders. It is not. Sixty percent of all criminal offending in New Zealand is associated with alcohol abuse—60 percent. The Government talks about putting more police on the beat; if it did more about alcohol abuse it would not have to bother. Getting wasted should not be an ambition to which our people aspire.
This Government is showing abject political weakness over the alcohol debate, which begs the question: what is the National Party getting from the liquor industry for the Government’s unwillingness to act decisively? How much money is being put into the victory fund account by the liquor industry for the National Party’s next election campaign? Could we have an answer from National members?
Jo Goodhew: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am personally offended by the suggestion that we, the members of the National caucus, could have been bought in such a way.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): I say to the member that it is outside the Standing Orders to say that someone is in the control of, or being in the pay of, someone else; there is no question about that. The Hon Jim Anderton did not go that far, I grant you, but he did raise it by way of a question, and I can see that people took it in an edgy way. But I have to say, on balance, this is to be a House of free speech and people are entitled to say what they believe. This could be a matter where we would take—I am struggling for the word, at the moment—
Jo Goodhew: Umbrage?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): It is not umbrage; it is a matter of taste. The member has spoken in a way that people might find distasteful. But I think he has raised the issue. It is sharp, but he has raised it in the form of a question. He has not said that the National Party or a particular party has been bought.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I will take aboard the comment in finishing, and just ask this: would the liquor industry tell us how much money it has given to the victory fund account of the National Party for the next election? I will be interested in that response as well, but I am not holding my breath.
Jo Goodhew: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am very concerned, because the question that you referred to asked “How much money?”. It did not ask “Was there money?”, but asked “How much money?”. Therefore this member is saying that the National Party has received money in response to policy. I again take offence. The question was not whether it had happened, but how much money was involved. Therefore, the inference was certainly that money has changed hands.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker, I want to say that the position I am now putting to the House is that the liquor industry can answer for itself. Did it give, and has it given, any money to the National Party’s victory fund account, and/or how much? Let the liquor industry answer the question. I am not holding my breath for the answer.
Simon Bridges: It seems to me that a very dangerous precedent is being set by the indication in your ruling, which is effectively that a member can ask a question—put something in the form of a question—and get away with it, but to do it otherwise is not allowed. Therefore it is all right for me to say that a particular member is senile or ask “Is he senile?”, but I cannot make that as a statement of fact. That, to me, seems very dangerous. It simply means that a member must rephrase everything, to ask “Is the member senile and at a point where he should retire?”. If I do it as a question, somehow that is OK, but if I do it as a statement it is not. It seems to me that is a very dangerous path to go down.
Sue Kedgley: I believe there was genuine public interest in knowing whether and, if so, how much the liquor industry, the advertising industry, and the food and grocery industry have contributed to political parties. I believe there is genuine public interest in knowing whether there is any linkage between the amount of moneys these industries contribute to political parties and the outcome in a policy sense.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: The issue here is not the electoral law and what disclosures there should be, in respect of which the National Party is absolutely committed to complying with the law. The issue that the junior National whip has taken offence to, very appropriately, is the appalling allegation that members such as myself have been influenced in our decision on this very important public policy issue by such things. There is absolutely no evidence for that. It is grossly offensive and wrong, and if you are to allow the sorts of statements and claims that have been made by Mr Anderton,
then in my view you are effectively allowing the names of good members of this House to be muddied in a way that I have not seen in my 20 years in this House.
Hon David Cunliffe: To take the converse of the point made by Mr Bridges, were you to rule that it was outside the Standing Orders for members of this House to allege influence on a party by parties outside this Parliament, I submit to you that that would unduly constrain the free and frank exercise of Parliament’s privileges—for example, under Speaker’s ruling 34/2. In this case it seems obviously inexplicable to members of the Opposition that the Government, which has committed itself to pro-health policies, should have weakened its position on alcohol reform. We are at a loss to find any other reasonable explanation—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): The member is starting to make statements about the issue, and that is out of order.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker, I say that the protest by the National Party is interesting because if you read the
Hansard, my question asked whether any money had been given. I did not ever suggest that it influenced anybody; I asked whether money had been given. That is a question for the National Party and the liquor industry. I am interested in the answers. I did not say it influenced anybody; I just wanted to know the facts.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I refer you quite specifically to Speaker’s ruling 52/4(1): “A member may not use words suggesting that a party in the House is, or has been, dominated, instructed, or directed …”. I say the key word is “suggesting”. Did the phrase that was used by Mr Anderton suggest that members on this side of the House were influenced by the money in the claims that he made? Of course he was making that suggestion, and that is why you should uphold the Speaker’s ruling and not allow such allegations to be made that members on this side of the House say are wrong and offensive.
Hon David Cunliffe: Mr Assistant Speaker—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): The member has had two goes. I just say to members that this is a very difficult issue. One of the first things a Speaker asks of this House is the right to free speech, and the right to free speech is a right to free speech. This House will suffer if people do not have free speech. In having that freedom of speech, members have to be responsible for what they say. If members say something that is manifestly wrong, demonstrably wrong, and offensive they can be referred to the Privileges Committee and the committee can deal with that matter. So it has to be something that is particularly wrong.
Secondly, there are matters that fall into the area of taste. They may not necessarily be wrong, but they are distasteful. I want to pick up on this theme a little bit, because I agree with Dr Nick Smith that Speaker’s ruling 52/4(1) is interesting, and it was correctly quoted: “A member may not use words suggesting that a party in the House is, or has been, dominated, instructed, or directed …”. Now, “dominated, instructed, or directed” are direct connections. I understood Mr Anderton’s proposition to be that people had used influence. Now influence is a step well back from being dominated, instructed, or directed. Influence is much more diffuse; people can be influenced or not influenced.
The second point that Mr Anderton raised, and I guess it is a legitimate point for a member of Parliament to raise, is whether members in the House have been influenced to a decision by way of other events outside. This is common conjecture on radio talkback or in any group of people that one meets. People do ask these questions. One of the defences we have against that as members of Parliament is the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament to disclose members’ interests so that
people can see that our interests have not affected our decisions and so that members are open in disclosing those.
It is also not in order to say that the Government favours one class against another, particularly when it is suggesting that this continues to be done for a party’s ends. I do not get that from what Mr Anderton said. Mr Anderton raised questions about whether money had been made available and whether it had influenced the Government. In this debate National has more calls and members can make their position very clear. I come back to one issue, which I think was from the English Parliament, where a person was asked to disclose a name. That person said they could not disclose the name but they could do it as quickly as they could say “Jack Robinson”. That was not offending Speakers’ rulings because it was done indirectly.
I say to members that this is very difficult, but I feel on balance and in the interests of free speech Mr Anderton has raised issues, and National members have the opportunity to rebut them, and he has not crossed the line of saying that National was “dominated, instructed, or directed”.
Jo Goodhew: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I now ask you to give me your direction on whether Speaker’s ruling 52/6 might apply in this case, given that it is my distinct memory that the member asked how much money—not whether any money—was given. I would say that Speaker’s ruling 52/6 certainly goes to the question at hand there.
Hon David Cunliffe: I would like to thank the member opposite for raising that Speaker’s ruling and I also thank the Hon Dr Nick Smith for raising Speaker’s ruling 52/4(1). In assisting your consideration of those points I refer you to Speaker’s rulings 52/4(2) and (3), which I am sure you will have available, but for the sake of listeners they state: “(2) a member making such a suggestion in an indirect way or by means of a question does not offend …”—which I think covers completely Mr Anderton’s position—and also “(3) when a member states that a party has received its marching orders, directions, … the member does not offend unless the Speaker is satisfied there is a clear suggestion that such orders, directions, or instructions have been or are being acted upon …”, and there is no clear suggestion of that nature.
A question was raised, because we could not explain the Government’s behaviour, but no direct suggestion has been made that the Government has acted in a particular way. The question has simply been raised and it should be a matter of public record whether any donations have been made to the Government on or around the same period that there has been consideration of this issue.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): This is a very difficult issue. As members can see, it is very difficult to make decisions off the cuff, but I say to members that had Mr Anderton said that the National Party had received money, I would have said that he was completely out of order. If Mr Anderton had said it had received money for these decisions, I would have said he was completely out of order.
The member indicated to me that he said that but I understood that Mr Anderton—and he may be able to correct me here because I just cannot quite remember the exact words—was asking whether National had received donations and to disclose those, and whether those donations had influenced its decision. That was the nature of it.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I never mentioned that they had influenced its decision. I asked whether it had been given any money, and if it had, how much.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): The member made a comment earlier on. That was the second one; what was the first one? Just refresh my memory on that.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I will read from the notes if you like, so that we get it right. It will be in
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): It is too late then.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: If I can find it—
Hon Tau Henare: Next week will be all right.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: At least I am not reading the wrong speech. [Interruption]
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): I ask members not to make interjections. I asked the member a serious question. I want the member to answer the question.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: The relevant section is: “How much money is being put into the victory fund account of the National Party by the liquor industry?”. “Nothing” is an answer, “$1” is an answer, “$1 million” is an answer—any answer will do.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): I have consulted the Clerk and I will reflect on my decision here. Speakers’ rulings 52/6 and 51/4 point out that a member may not allege that the Government favours the interests of one class. I think that in the way the member has raised this there is very clearly an allegation that the Government has come to a conclusion for a donation. I think the member has crossed the line at that point. There is a very clear allegation in that. If the member had simply asked: “Have there been donations made, and if so for what amount, and have donations been made that have influenced the decision?”, then that is not an allegation. That is a question, and it is different from an allegation. So I ask the member to withdraw.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I am happy to withdraw the comment I made, and ask whether money has been given to the National Party by the liquor industry.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): No, I say to the member that I want him to withdraw the comments. I ask him to stand and withdraw the comments, then he can continue his speech and rephrase the words how he likes.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I withdraw the comments and end my speech by asking whether the liquor industry has given any money to the National Party’s victory fund account for next year, or any money to the National Party during the period of this debate.
SUE KEDGLEY (Green)
: The stars were aligned for a historic, once-in-a-generation law change that would reduce our heavy-drinking culture and the damage that alcohol is causing our society. We had this highly acclaimed Law Commission report that promised a comprehensive package of reforms, which had overwhelming public support and cross-party support in this Parliament. But the Government has blown this one-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle this huge and damaging social problem because it does not have the political courage to stand up to the liquor, advertising, hospitality, food, and grocery industries.
The Government has blown this opportunity because it has chosen to put the vested interests of those industries ahead of the health and well-being of New Zealanders. It really is as simple as that, and that is why the question that Mr Anderton asked—whether money has been donated by those industries to the National Party—is such a relevant issue. Instead, the Government has come up with the Alcohol Reform Bill that is doomed to fail, because it fails to address the key drivers of alcohol abuse: the extraordinarily cheap price of alcohol and the saturation marketing and advertising of alcohol. It also fails to tackle the crucial issue of increasing the blood-alcohol limit.
We live in an alcohol-saturated society; alcohol is absurdly cheap. It is available round the clock, 7 days a week, in almost every dairy and supermarket in the land. Liquor outlets have doubled over the past decade. There are 14,500 of them, and many of them are clustered in low-income areas. We are subjected to saturation marketing and advertising of liquor everywhere we turn. Harmful drinking has become so commonplace that it is seen as something that is inevitable and somehow normal. It is unfortunate that this bill will do little, if anything, to change our heavy-drinking culture
or to reduce the problems related to binge drinking crime, traffic accidents, date rape, and domestic violence. This is a tragedy.
As Doug Sellman pointed out yesterday, this bill “… fails to implement every substantial measure that would actually reduce the excessive drinking culture.” The Government appears determined to maintain the status quo of low prices, high accessibility, unrelenting advertising, and drink-driving. That is a perfect recipe for maintaining a heavy-drinking culture, or, as Professor Jennie Connor from Otago University put it, the measures proposed in this bill are like “fighting a bush fire with a couple of garden hoses for the next 20 years.” Although the bill refuses to act in these important areas, it overacts in other areas. It includes heavy-handed provisions that give police excessive, unnecessary, and Draconian powers to arrest people without a warrant. These provisions infringe on the basic civil and political rights of our democracy, such as the right against arbitrary arrest and the right to a presumption of innocence. We can reduce the harm of alcohol without trampling on the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. These are terrible provisions, and we will fight to get rid of them.
Another general concern with the bill is it targets young people in a politically expedient way, when 92 percent of heavy drinkers are aged 20 and over. It is too easy, too simplistic, to divert the debate into one about the drinking age, when the problems of binge drinking affect every single age group in New Zealand. In diluting the Law Commission’s proposed reforms to the point where they will not be effective, the Government, as others have pointed out, is completely out of step with public opinion, which has shifted dramatically in the past year. People are clamouring for a tougher regime. They are marching in the streets for a tougher regime. They have given huge support to the Law Commission’s reforms and almost universal condemnation for the Government’s decision to rule out any price increase or reduce the blood-alcohol limit.
It is recognised around the world that probably the most effective way of discouraging teenage drinking is to make alcohol more expensive. This, of course, is particularly the case in New Zealand, where alcohol is sold in supermarkets in a predatory fashion at ridiculously low, below-cost prices to lure people, particularly young people, through the door. The Government has acknowledged that putting up the price of tobacco has been an incredibly powerful tool in reducing smoking. Tariana Turia said that raising the price of cigarettes has provided a strong incentive for smokers to quit. It has helped to dissuade young people from ever starting to smoke. Why on earth do the same arguments not apply to liquor?
It is also blindingly obvious that alcohol advertising should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco advertising. Alcohol advertising glamorises and normalises alcohol. It acts as a powerful recruiter of young drinkers. It links the rites of passage for young people to the consumption of alcohol, and it creates enormous peer pressure to drink. I know this because I have a 20-year-old son. When alcohol companies sponsor sports, clubs, rock concerts, and other events, it embeds those brands and products into the lives of young people. We know that 90 percent of 5 to 17-year-olds see at least one alcohol advertisement on television every week. International research shows that this predisposes them to drinking well before they are 18. If the Government is serious about stopping young people from drinking, then this is the very first issue it should tackle. Its refusal to do so—no doubt because of the pressure from advertisers and the powerful liquor industry—seriously weakens this bill and the impact it will have.
The Green Party has serious concerns about the Draconian provisions in this bill that will allow police to arrest a person in an area with a liquor ban without a warrant if they suspect—merely suspect—that that person is carrying alcohol. The bill also gives police powers to demand under threat of arrest that people they suspect may be breaking a liquor ban give them the name, address, and whereabouts of any other person connected
in any way with the alleged offence. No reasons are given as to why these arbitrary powers have been sneaked into the bill. The Minister of Justice says they are there because the police want them. Of course the police would like to arrest people without a warrant, but the fact is that these provisions breach civil and political rights that are fundamental in our democracy. Freedom from arbitrary arrest, and presumption of innocence—we take these rights for granted at our peril, and it is our job as MPs to uphold these rights on behalf of all New Zealanders. We can put in place protections against harm caused to our communities by alcohol, but we should not use this bill as an excuse to sneak in additional police powers—Draconian police powers. The Green Party will fight to get rid of these incursions of police powers over our fundamental freedoms.
There are other serious flaws in this bill. It exempts the police, Fire Service, and Defence Force bars from liquor licensing requirements. It exempts casinos from having to comply with licensing hours, which will have the perverse effect of encouraging people in Auckland and Christchurch to head down to a casino when bars are closed in order to gamble, as well as to drink.
The Green Party will support this bill’s referral to the Justice and Electoral Committee because it contains provisions we support, such as giving communities a say on liquor licensing provisions, and allowing local councils to develop alcohol policies and control trading hours, as well as having more say over whether to grant any further liquor licences. But we will vigorously oppose the police provisions in the bill. We will put forward many amendments to remove the many flaws in this bill and to extend its provisions in relation to crucial issues such as the price and marketing of alcohol. Thank you very much.
Hon HEATHER ROY (ACT)
: I rise to speak to the first reading of the Alcohol Reform Bill, on behalf of the ACT Party. Like some other members, we have grave concerns about much of this legislation. It is not enough merely to be seen to be taking a serious problem seriously. Many of the measures in the bill will not have the desired or intended effect that has been spoken about today, but will impinge on the majority of people who drink responsibly. Rather than addressing the causes of this problem, this bill addresses only the symptoms.
The ACT Party will have a split vote on this bill; three of our members will be opposing it, and two will be supporting it to go to the Justice and Electoral Committee, but they want to voice their grave concerns about this legislation.
As lawmakers, we have a duty to step back and ask ourselves questions. Do our current laws serve us well, and do we need change? If we need change, we should ask what the role of Government should be, and what should be left to individuals and communities. Does ever more restrictive and stringent regulation really help, or does it take away the self-responsibility that is inherent in our society, and result in the statute book replacing common sense and good behaviour?
This bill is based on Law Commission report 114, which made 153 recommendations to Parliament. The Government has issued its response, accepting 113 of the recommendations. Now we are going through the process of passing and implementing law. The Government’s response is comprehensive and it covers, as others have said, many areas: the licensing framework and enforcement of that framework; the management of alcohol in public places through liquor bans; parental consent and supervision; advertising; and—the issue on which much of the public focus lies—the alcohol purchase age. All of those things are done with the best of intentions, but good intentions on their own are not enough. Those are very specific proposals to solve a much broader but poorly articulated problem—that of problem drinking: binge drinking, irresponsible drinking by those of all ages, and drinking that ends in illness or violence,
or both. But we have a quandary, do we not, because people enjoy drinking, and the majority do so in moderation.
We have not heard about the social benefits of drinking. People do enjoy it, but we have not heard about those benefits, and that is because people want to continue drinking. They do not want to have the prohibition debate, despite the fact that in listening to Lianne Dalziel, Jim Anderton, and parts of Sue Kedgley’s speech, we actually heard arguments for prohibition, which never, ever works.
There is no denying that there are real harms from alcohol, but it is important to weigh the benefits in any cost-benefit analysis. It is clear that there is a cost, but the size of the cost is very material to determining the correct policy course. When considering reform, it is important to examine the facts. Often forgotten is the fact that when liquor laws were liberalised in the late 1980s, alcohol consumption per head of population fell—it dropped. Although consumption has increased recently along with incomes, but only slightly, it is still significantly lower than it was 30 years ago. New Zealand has the 13th lowest level of alcohol consumption of the 30 OECD countries. We consume about half the amount of alcohol, per head of population, of countries such as France and Italy.
We must beware the unintended consequences of regulation. Many of the proposed reforms in this bill will not have the intended effect. It is fair to say that the old laws caused problems. The 6 o’clock pub closing created the 6 o’clock swill. The culture, of course, was to swill as much alcohol as possible before the bar closed, and the sawdust on the floors of bars was not there in order to add to the rustic charm. Thankfully, those days are gone, and we now have a lively and diverse drinking scene, which is not heavily regulated. Because of this change of scene, we have some of the top bars and restaurants in the world.
My critics will be apoplectic by now, shouting about Courtenay Place at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday mornings, and the unseemly Viaduct Basin sights. Am I underestimating the harms? I do not believe that the answers lie in rigid legislation that provides the wrong incentives and, therefore, the wrong behaviours. The truth is that society’s attitude toward alcohol and bad behaviour is what determines how serious a problem alcohol consumption is.
In many other societies, and Italy is a good example, public drunkenness is simply not tolerated; people do not put up with it. But what do we do here in New Zealand? We walk down the street and we turn the other way so that we can ignore the problem.
All of this says to me that no laws relating to alcohol consumption will really have the desired effect. Laws can try to modify behaviour, but ultimately it is social attitudes that matter. Laws will not change those attitudes; education campaigns may. When we refuse to tolerate drunken behaviour, people will stop behaving that way in public. So what is the answer? There is, of course, no silver bullet. A change in societal attitudes to drunkenness is a very good start. We must never get to the stage of assuming that only the police can deal with bad behaviour. Parents accepting responsibility for their children is a huge factor.
Recent academic studies show that parental modelling of drinking is a large determinant of their children’s drinking behaviour. Young problem drinkers are almost always the product of parents who are problem drinkers. The studies also show that provision of alcohol by parents is a determinant of drinking behaviour. Our kids learn from us.
Age control is a red herring. The 18 versus 20 age debate merely detracts from the real issue. Inappropriate consumption is inappropriate at age 14, age 18 or 20, age 35, age 60, or age 99. That is why I support keeping the alcohol purchase age at 18, and have been very impressed with the Keep It 18 campaign. This will, of course, be a
conscience vote, and, like most parties, the ACT Party will probably have differing views on this matter. I will say it again: to turn this debate into an attack on the young only serves to ignore the real issues with alcohol consumption in New Zealand.
This week the Attorney-General raised in a report some quite frightening issues, and those have been referred to by the previous speaker, Sue Kedgley. Firstly, a power of arrest for an infringement offence raises an issue of arbitrariness on several counts. If there is a risk to public disorder, alternative powers of arrest are already open to police. Secondly, the Attorney-General’s report raised concerns about a new push in the bill to allow police to compel someone suspected of an infringement to give the name, address, and whereabouts of anyone connected in any way with the alleged offence. The bill also has a number of reverse onus provisions. All of these are a blatant attack on our freedoms.
It is fitting that today—Armistice Day—we also consider freedom and living in a free society. A free society is one where other people cannot decide whether we drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, engage in prostitution, gamble, or box. We cannot legislate or decide for other people. It is for individuals to make their own choices.
I want to finish with a principle that we should base good law on. Good law should be clear, enforceable, and routinely enforced. If the proposals do not meet those criteria, we should go straight back to the drawing board. That is because the outcome is the most important thing. We need real solutions, not just to be seen to be taking a serious problem seriously. It is about diagnosing the problem accurately, looking at what will work, and then once we have the right plan, enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. We must start with enforcement of our current laws, and then add a large dollop of education into the mix to show that we are serious. We must not get in the way of people helping themselves, because that is when we will see real change.
HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau)
: Today is Armistice Day—the day we remember the deaths of soldiers and civilians who were sacrificed on the altar of war and greed. Today as we consider the Alcohol Reform Bill, we also remember the death of soldiers and civilians who were sacrificed on the altar of ignorance, drunkenness, profit, greed, and the ongoing unwillingness of Governments of both persuasions to put an end to the destruction visited upon all of our communities by alcohol in all its pernicious and evil forms. And today as we consider this bill, we also remember the families who bear the scars of lives lost to cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, depression, alcoholism, and heart disease, and those families suffering the lasting effects of drink-driving and alcohol-related falls, drownings, poisoning, assault, and injury, and of foetal alcohol syndrome.
As we think of that, let us also remember that back in 1769, before alcohol even got here, botanist Joseph Banks noted that for Māori “water is their universal drink” and that Māori showed great repugnance for liquor. That was a comment backed up by a 1999 health services research centre study, which said that “Prior to contact with Pakeha, Maori lived in one of the few parts of the world that had never developed alcoholic beverages. The Inuit people of Canada, the Trukese of Micronesia and a number of Native American tribes share with Maori the attribution of being indigenous peoples who did not develop alcoholic drinks.” Yet, for all of that, the problem of alcoholism within Māori society had gotten so bad that even before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi European captains were moved to lodge formal complaints against Tāmati Waka Nene and other chiefs who were boarding their ships even before they had berthed in the Hokianga Harbour to find and destroy the barrels of liquor that were being brought into Tai Tokerau.
It is a sad commentary on our liquor laws in Aotearoa today that even as that historical evidence was being given at the Ngāpuhi hearings in Pānguru a few weeks
ago, Sonny Tau, chairperson of Ngāpuhi, was condemning the opening of yet another liquor store in Kaikohe in 2010. It is sad, too, that not long after the Treaty was signed a petition was presented to Parliament by Haimona Te Aoterangi in 1874, which said “Liquor impoverishes us; our children are not born healthy because parents drink to excess and the child suffers; it muddles men’s brains and they in ignorance sign important documents and get into trouble thereby; grog also turns the intelligent men of the Maori race into fools … grog is the cause of various diseases which afflict us.”
So today we have this bill to repeal, to replace, and to amend a whole bunch of laws, but to what end? Māori continue to drink and die in the same horrific and unacceptable numbers in 2010 as they did in 1810. For Māori there is greater likelihood of harmful effects from alcohol than for non-Māori, twice the rate of severe alcohol-related problems, and four times the rate of alcohol-related deaths. Yet Governments of both persuasions continue to tinker with a framework dedicated to achieving bugger all.
While Māori continue to suffer and die at appalling rates, politicians prattle on about people needing to have a more mature attitude to alcohol. They introduce bills like this one, with licensing exemptions, parental consent requirements, regulation provisions, clauses about local authority policy and the like, and an absolute cast-iron guarantee that very little change will come about as a result of this bill going through the House.
I hope Māori will make submissions on this bill that recognise the history of non-alcoholism and the impact of colonisation and the continuing destruction brought about by alcohol. I hope they will, but I will not be surprised if they do not. Māori have tried direct action. We have done the petition buzz, we have marched, we have haka-ed, we have submitted, and we have done the rāhui, but for what? So that we can do it all again while we watch the statistics shuffle around and our communities continue to suffer? No, we need a better focus, we need a new strategy, and we need another angle.
The only angle that might work is the one that Tariana has put before this House: Whānau Ora. Unless we can change the thinking of whānau, we will not change the environment in which alcoholism runs rampant, and unless we can do that we will be going nowhere fast. We need to support whānau-focused alcohol and drug addiction programmes and recovery and restoration services, and we need to take a collective approach to build on the strengths of whānau to reduce alcohol-related harm.
So the Māori Party will support this bill, but we will do so reluctantly because we know that tinkering around with legislation will not fix the problem. Only courage will do that. I suspect that there are too many people in this House whose courage will last only until they are offered their next drink. Kia ora tātou.
CHESTER BORROWS (National—Whanganui)
: I am privileged to be able to take this opportunity to speak on the Alcohol Reform Bill, and maybe to answer some of the questions that have been raised in the course of other speeches. It is difficult to cover in any significant depth the large number of issues that have been raised, but it is important to speak about a number of them.
Over the course of the Justice and Electoral Committee’s consideration of the bill that is currently before it we have heard a large number of submissions on a number of these issues, too. Probably the most commonly made submissions have been about the inability of local people to have an impact on the procedure for granting consent to applications, on the basis of the proliferation of liquor outlets in local communities. I find it most frustrating to hear from people who have been in this House for a long time and who are critical of where this bill does not go, while knowing that they largely sat on their hands while laws were promoted that did not allow local people in their own communities to submit, for example, on the placement of a liquor store across the road from a school. For instance, we have the situation in Glen Innes where young people in school uniform can walk across the road from their high school, purchase a ready-to-drink for about $1, drink it, and go back to school that afternoon, supposedly to carry on with their school work. This bill will allow for local alcohol plans to be developed. It will allow local people to have an impact on the consent process, and so it should.
It is also ridiculous to think back to a time when this Parliament decided that we should all start to drink like the French do, turning a blind eye to the alcoholism problem that they have in their country, which is far more significant than it is in our country, and trying to address, for instance, our binge drinking culture by way of legislation. The point has already been well made that legislation will not change that culture, and that only a change of attitude will. The bill seeks, then, to impose liability on parents and caregivers for the alcohol that they supply to minors. It requires that if they are to supply alcohol to minors who are not their children, then they need to have a positive authorisation to do that from the parents and caregivers of those minors. At the moment we live in a country where, if a parent wants to put on a birthday party for his or her 16-year-old child, that 16-year-old can invite all his or her friends, and the parent can put a pallet of booze in the garage, say “Go to it.”, and commit no offence.
Traditionally the laws on the sale of liquor within this country have been a dog’s breakfast. What happens is that Governments periodically titivate around the edges of them, trying to tinker with them, and every few years they have to have a major overhaul. In respect of what has been done in the last few years, this legislation is a major overhaul. It may well be that members on the other side of the House are not happy with how far this bill goes, but it is significant. It addresses, for instance, retail outlets, the hours during which alcohol can be sold, and the supermarket component of the alcohol industry, which has grown to such a proportion that 70 percent of the alcohol consumed in this country is bought from supermarkets. It then tries to deal with the quandary of the fact that supermarkets are the most compliant sellers of takeaway alcohol in the country in terms of not serving to under-age or intoxicated people, but at the same time they must bear the responsibility of having supplied, through their retail outlets, the vast amount of alcohol that does cause problems for our law enforcement agencies, our families, and our social agencies.
This bill also seeks to deal with the conundrum of ready-to-drinks, or RTDs, which have become very much the gateway product of choice for young people who are starting to drink. Mature adults, supposedly, who are in charge of companies have made alcohol and advertised it as alcohol that does not taste like alcohol—alcohol that tastes like lolly water—in order to entice people to start drinking alcohol at a young age, and to then maintain them as clients of their particular brand. This bill seeks to limit the alcohol content of ready-to-drinks to 5 percent—to limit it to one and a half standard drinks. Within the select committee we expect to have some discussion on that, and some concerns will be raised by the alcohol sector. But the other thing we must also recognise is that every different part of the alcohol sector is standing there pointing at another part of that sector, and saying it is the one to blame. In fact, this bill seeks to limit the activities of every part of the sector and to deal with those parts as a group, which is a good thing.
I take issue with some points made by speakers on behalf of the ACT Party and the Progressive party. I find it to be absolutely abhorrent that someone who has been in Parliament from the early 1980s, and who has stood and maybe voted in certain ways, but who has largely taken no public role in condemning the use of alcohol for well over 25 years, then seeks to call people who are involved in the wine industry or the retail grocery industry drug pushers. I find that absolutely ridiculous. I also take issue with the ACT Party, which is prepared to push and promote the “three strikes” legislation, which largely deals with people who commit offences against another person while under the influence of alcohol. That party wants to further liberalise the alcohol laws and will not
vote for this bill, which seeks to constrain people when they are sourcing alcohol, the very firewater that creates those offences in the first place.
It is also important to note something in respect of the comments made by the Green Party and Māori Party with regard to infringement offences. Currently, the law on the liquor bans that operate all around this country is such that a power of arrest goes with them. At various times of the year—for instance, New Year’s Eve—we have a situation in some of our resorts whereby 160, 170, or maybe 200 people are arrested because they had liquor in an open container in a public place. They are taken back to the police station and confined in a cell for several hours, then let go. This bill seeks to create an infringement offence for that matter, so that that detention is not required. At the same time it allows for a short-term power of arrest, so that such people can be dealt with, but then given an infringement notice and let go without needing to go through the process of being fingerprinted and photographed, so as to streamline the infringement on their liberty.
I note that there has been a negative New Zealand Bill of Rights Act report from the Attorney-General on this bill. I look forward to dealing with the issues raised in it during the select committee process, and I have no doubt those issues will be debated vociferously within the committee. I would expect that to occur. We discussed this morning the prospect of this bill coming before the committee. We are all looking forward to dealing with it at a number of locations around the country and to receiving submissions from the many people who will want to engage with the committee in this debate. Thank you.
Hon DARREN HUGHES (Labour)
: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the first reading of the Alcohol Reform Bill. As my colleagues have said, Labour approaches this legislation disappointed that what appears to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make some changes has not been taken up to the full extent that it could have been. But we will vote for the first reading of this bill, because there are aspects of the legislation that we are in support of, and there are other elements where we would like to use the select committee process to advance our view with regard to different aspects of the legislation.
At the outset, before I touch on the one particular topic I would like to raise in the House this afternoon, I say that I agree with some of the earlier speakers, particularly Heather Roy, who made the point that legislation alone will not make the changes that we need. I totally agree with that. I think attitude change in our society is equally as important as the law changes that Parliament can pass. If we believe that we can just pass law and that people will pore over our
Hansard details, read the statute book, and make their decisions on that basis alone, then I think we are deluding ourselves. We need a two-pronged approach of attitude change and leadership in the community, but simply relying on that will not do it; we do need to make sure that our laws are robust.
In that respect, the Law Commission report, which was set up by the previous Labour Government and was reported under this Government—and Simon Power has taken that work through to the legislation that we are debating today—provided not only that once-in-a-generation opportunity that I spoke of but also a lot of political cover for the Government of the day. I do not pretend that these are easy issues for a Government to grapple with, as people do not necessarily line up along philosophical lines on these kinds of topics. But there was an opportunity for the Government to make the best use of the political will that exists in Parliament to make some of those changes. I think it is worth making that point.
This reform bill contains 10 different parts, which amend many different laws. The aspect I want to speak about today is something that is not in the bill but could have been. I believe it is a huge and damning oversight on the part of the Government that it
has not taken up the recommendation that was in the Law Commission report, and also that it has not been able to take up the political will that was there. I believe that in the first reading of this reform bill there should have been provisions that lowered the blood-alcohol concentration level for adults from 0.08 to 0.05. I believe if that provision had been included in this reform bill, which touches on many pieces of legislation, then the Government would have found, on a conscience vote, that the overwhelming majority of the House would support it.
The Law Commission report, on which this legislation is based, has made that clear, and indeed the Minister of Transport himself, when this issue was being debated as part of Safer Journeys, the road safety strategy, said that he thought the current limits were ridiculous, only for him to not follow through when the decision had to be made to include it either in this legislation or in alternative legislation that is currently before the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee.
It is an idea whose time has come. Over 300 studies have shown the effect of alcohol on drivers, and it is a terrible, terrible effect indeed. In our country roughly one-third of our annual road toll is made up of deaths caused by alcohol. Many, many thousands of drivers are injured over the course of a decade as a result of alcohol. I also note in passing that drug-driving is a factor in a number of these accidents as well.
New Zealand now stands as one of the countries in the Western World that has the highest tolerance of alcohol allowed in the blood, whilst still giving drivers the ability to drive on our roads. I think that is absolutely terrible. Indeed, we know from those studies that by reducing the drink-driving limit we could make a real impact on our road toll straight away.
There is no doubt that there is public support. Two-thirds of people who participated in a
One News poll believed that the alcohol limit should be lowered to 0.05, and 76 percent of people who responded to a
Herald on Sunday
campaign nominated a drink-driving limit of effectively 0.05. Even the Minister of Transport, in his own Safer Journeys document, suggested that 85 percent of people had a genuine desire to see the alcohol limit come down.
We are left with arguments against this measure, which I do not find compelling, at all. The first argument I hear from the Government for not including that measure in this legislation is that Labour never did it. What a previous Government did or did not do cannot be the basis of public policy in New Zealand. There are many reasons why Governments do not do things. Sometimes it is simply the passage of time. Sometimes it is simply an idea whose time has come, and I believe this is one of those.
Labour’s decision to support the lowering of the alcohol limit is based on two key points. Firstly, the Labour Government’s road safety vision was written in 2000—10 years ago. It ran out this year and this Government has picked it up, with Safer Journeys, for the next 10 years to put out what its vision is. In 2000 the blood-alcohol level was not the big road safety issue. In 2000, members will recall, speed was often the thing Governments were looking at. I believe that now, 10 years on, there is a desire in the community to see the blood-alcohol concentration limit lowered.
The other point worth noting is that the Law Commission was tasked with going away and looking at everything. I agree with what other speakers have said. Too often in this debate we have chosen one topic and said that if everyone voted a certain way on that one topic, then every disaster and every mischief in the world would go away. Sure enough, everyone feels good at the time and lots of back-patting goes on, but we are still in the same situation. The Law Commission’s once-in-a-generation opportunity, through Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s work, gave us the chance to look at things afresh, and that was one of the recommendations that came back to the Minister. But it has not found its way for us to progress it any further.
It cannot be an argument that the Labour Government did not do this, because we could then stand here and say that the National Government that had 9 years before us did not do it. National could shoot back and say that the 6 years of the Labour Government in the 1980s did not do it. That is not the way to conduct a proper and sensible debate. We need to talk about tomorrow, not yesterday. We have offered our political support to the Government for this measure.
The second argument the Government puts up for not lowering the limit to 0.05 is that not enough data exists. This is not a strong argument at all. The Government’s own discussion document, which was launched here in Parliament with great fanfare and was signed off, makes the point that there have been 300 studies over 50 years. We could cut and slice the data any way we like. It is clear that our roads are safer for our families, our children, and all the people in our community when the blood-alcohol concentration is lower than 0.08.
The third argument that comes up—and, to be fair, it is not used by the Government but by other people—is that the problem is not drivers who drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of between 0.05 and 0.08; the problem is the drivers who are well and truly over the limit. On the face of it, that argument is worthy of investigation. A study done in Canberra showed that by lowering the limit from 0.08 to 0.05, as every state and territory in Australia has done, the overall consumption of alcohol amongst drivers fell. In fact, in terms of those very extreme drink-driving cases, where people were at 0.15 and 0.2, which are phenomenal levels of alcohol, there was a rapid decrease of over one-third in the first instance and nearly 60 percent in the second instance when those limits fell. Under the 0.05 limit not only do we get drivers who are drinking at a much lower level, but those who keep on drinking and get to 0.08 and cannot make the decision to stop drinking do not get to the much higher levels, which often cause devastation on the roads. I am sure the Minister of Transport would be aware of those 300 studies.
Those are the three arguments often put up by the Government that have led it to take the decision not to include the lowering of the blood-alcohol concentration limit in this Alcohol Reform Bill, which amends many pieces of legislation.
The freedom argument was raised by the ACT Party. ACT members talked about the freedom of people to choose to drink and then drive. Freedom is a very important principle in a democracy, and I believe people should be free to use our roads safely, knowing that the decisions and actions of others will not wipe them out or cause devastation. I think the ACT members were putting up a serious argument. Freedom involves good decision-making and it involves good judgment, and I believe that at a 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration, where people are legally intoxicated, they cannot be expected to be in a position to exercise the good judgment that that freedom requires. I hope they will consider that argument.
The political will is there for this to happen, the public support is there, and all the research is available. It is a real shame that the Government has wimped out on this particular issue. The Government has decided, on the political judgment of the Minister of Transport, not to do it. I could not describe it any better than Tom Scott in his cartoon in this morning’s
Dominion Post. He portrays Steven Joyce saying: “If there is any proof linking alcohol intake to the road toll, rest easy NZ … I will find it.”
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National)
: It is my privilege to participate in the first reading of the Alcohol Reform Bill. It is one of the major reforms that this Government has initiated. Alcohol has been a part of all cultures in ancient history, and we cannot ban alcohol from our society. But with this Alcohol Reform Bill we want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol in our society.
The Alcohol Reform Bill will help to ensure that the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol is undertaken in a safe and responsible manner. This bill also helps the system to minimise the harm caused by the excessive and inappropriate consumption of alcohol. The bill will repeal and replace the Sale of Liquor Act 1989. This bill will implement the Government’s decisions on alcohol law reform. These decisions were made in response to the Law Commission’s 2010 report
Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm.
Alcohol is one of the major causes of crime. The National-led Government, under the leadership of the Rt Hon John Key; the Minister of Justice, the Hon Simon Power; and the Minister of Police, the Hon Judith Collins, has been working hard to reduce crime in our society. The introduction of this bill is one more step towards making our society safe.
I come from a part of the country in which there is a very high level of alcohol problems. I also represent a community that has a very high stake in this trade in the form of retail outlets, liquor shops, restaurants, and bars. Alcohol plays a part in 30 percent of all offences and in 34 percent of all incidents of family violence. Alcohol is estimated to contribute to 1,000 deaths per year. During the weekends about seven out of every 10 people who go to an emergency department are there because of alcohol. We cannot ignore these statistics. We have to tackle this problem. We have to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, which increases crime.
The alcohol reform package empowers communities. It zeroes in on where the harm caused by alcohol is happening—particularly with regard to youth—to control the supply of alcohol, to reduce demand, and to limit alcohol-related problems.
The Minister of Justice has adopted, in full or in part, 126 of the Law Commission’s 153 recommendations. This bill will increase the purchase age. It includes a split purchase age. People must be 18 to drink in bars, but they must be 20 to buy alcohol from off-licences. We are targeting young people, because, as the Law Commission reported, young people suffer a high and disproportionate level of alcohol-related harm. To have any impact on our binge-drinking culture, we need to start with young people, by putting measures in place to control both the supply of alcohol to youth and the environment in which they drink.
The Government has also recognised that different communities have different needs, and that those needs are best understood by local people. This bill will empower local communities to address local issues—like the concentration, location, and opening hours of alcohol outlets—by having a local alcohol policy. Where there is no trading hours policy, the maximum national trading hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for on-licences and for premises with club licences and special licences, and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. for off-licences. Local communities, not people in Wellington, are best placed to decide how alcohol licensing should be treated in their own areas. That is why the bill empowers communities to adopt local alcohol policies.
As a member of the Justice and Electoral Committee, I am looking forward to public participation and to hearing the concerns and suggestions the public gives for our consideration. This legislation alone will not turn round our binge-drinking culture, but it can help us to develop a more moderate drinking culture through controlling the availability of alcohol, and it has a focus on youth. I commend the first reading of this bill to the House.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North)
: I have been looking forward to my opportunity to take a call on the Alcohol Reform Bill. I would like to start my contribution this afternoon by congratulating the Hon Lianne Dalziel on her vision and on her role in referring these issues to the Law Commission and asking it to undertake a comprehensive review of our liquor legislation. I also congratulate the Law
Commission on that review and on the very detailed report it brought back to Parliament. I acknowledge my colleague from the Manawatū, the Hon Simon Power, for his role in maintaining that progress and for bringing this legislation to the House.
I have been sitting in the House listening very closely throughout the debate. I have heard a lot of not quite opposition to the bill, but reluctant support for it. The reason why the support is reluctant is not due to what is in the bill. For the most part, the changes this bill makes are positive, will be accepted by the community, and will be looked on historically as good moves. But they are slim pickings from what the Law Commission suggested we need to do. They are not the total package that Lianne Dalziel set out to achieve when she referred these issues to the commission some years ago.
After listening to the debate, I need to refer to some of the comments that have been made by some members. Nick Smith attacked Lianne Dalziel for her superb, passionate, and comprehensive contribution in this debate.
Simon Bridges: Angry and boring.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Did a member say it was boring?
Simon Bridges: She managed to be both angry and boring.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Lianne Dalziel’s contribution comes from years of dedication to this issue and from research and looking at the evidence. Yet Nick Smith turned round to her and said that he found her speech ironic because of comments she made in the early 1990s in relation to the Sale of Liquor Act 1989. I would think that a member like Lianne Dalziel, having spent 20 years in Parliament, would be able to learn over her time here, and that is clearly what she has done. She may have changed her position on things, but that is because she has looked at the evidence, developed her position, and learnt as she has gone along. Clearly, Nick Smith has not. Nick Smith’s position remains rooted in the early 1990s, not just on this issue but also on many others.
I listened closely to Heather Roy because I was interested to see how the ACT Party would be voting on this. She referred to prohibition in this bill. What absolute rubbish. That could not be further from the truth. Prohibition is a failed policy. We know that. This bill goes nowhere near prohibition. She also referred to the 6 o’clock swill. This bill does not revert us back to the 6 o’clock swill either, and nobody is suggesting that that is where we should go. She talked about how legislation cannot achieve change, then offered virtually nothing in terms of what we should do to achieve change. She had no ideas and no suggestions. She said that we have a problem and society should change it, but offered absolutely no initiatives on how we could go about doing that.
Heather Roy mentioned education. Education feels kind of good because we think that if we educate people, then the people—somebody else—will change their behaviour and fix the problem without us having to do anything. Well, that is a nice idea, but the evidence tells us that education in isolation achieves very, very little. It is sad and I wish it was not true, but it is a fact. She also talked about parents modelling good behaviour. That is true. There is empirical data that tells us that parents who model good behaviour pass it on to their children. But what should we do for parents who are not modelling good behaviour? Nothing, according to the ACT Party; we should just tell them off for being bad people. The fundamental point that the ACT Party does not address in this debate is that with alcohol, just like with any other substance, we are talking about addiction. Addiction gets in the way of the ACT Party’s mantra of personal choice because addiction takes away one’s ability to have personal choice, one’s ability to make rational decisions, and, basically, one’s individual rights. For parents who are not modelling good behaviour, we need to have initiatives in place to support them to change their ways.
This is where I come to some of the things that really are missing from this bill and from this debate. Simon Power referred to a balance. He said that this bill is a balance between the harms and the benefits of alcohol. I think what the Government is trying to achieve is a balance between the evidence that tells us what we should do and the politics. That is the balance this Government is trying to achieve. What we should be doing is passing evidence-based legislation and using evidence-based initiatives to tackle the alcohol problem and curb the harm, which is what the Law Commission called on us to do. There are three aspects to dealing with any substance abuse problem: supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm reduction. This bill focuses on some aspects of supply reduction.
At the same time, we need to look at the whole package of how we achieve demand reduction and harm reduction at the same time. Those two matters are health matters. The way that Parliament operates saddens me a little. It is a necessary thing, but that this bill will be referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee overlooks the fact that the Health Committee could have a huge role in this, as well. This is a health matter as well as a justice matter. It is sad that we cannot form some sort of super committee to deal with this bill that has members from the Justice and Electoral Committee and the Health Committee, but that is not the way Parliament works. I accept that, and that is fine. In terms of health and in terms of demand and harm reduction, the Government is going in the opposite direction to the direction it says it is taking us in with this bill.
We have seen cuts to alcohol and other drug treatment funding. We have seen mental health and alcohol and drug treatment removed from the Government’s priorities. That means that when the Government puts the screws on district health boards and says that it will limit the amount of money they have available, they have to find places to cut funding and things to cut. They take their lead from the Government and if something is not a priority to the Government, then it is not a priority to the district health boards either. We have seen cuts to drug and alcohol treatment services. They are the types of services that would help us make the changes that the ACT Party is calling for. The Government says that it is interested and concerned about alcohol harm in our community, but although it is trying to take us a small way down the right path with this bill it is taking us in completely the opposite direction with its cuts to health funding.
I will pass on a small anecdote to the House about price, because that is something that is missing from this debate. The Government has wussed out and deferred the issue of price until after the election. I went to the supermarket some time ago—
Hon Steven Joyce: Oh, really?
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The Minister may be interested to know that I have been to the supermarket several times. I had an epiphany about the price issue when I bought a few bottles of wine. I did not buy them from the alcohol section but from the end of one of the aisles, where they were promoted. Those bottles of wine cost $9.99 each. I took a few bottles home, we had a barbecue with friends, and the bottles were drunk very responsibly. Everybody went home happy and there were no problems the next day. For $30 I was able to provide alcohol for a small function, but for that same $30 a teenager or anybody could have consumed all of that wine and got themselves into a real mess for not a lot of money. I thought that, OK, I appreciate being able to purchase that alcohol for a low price, but I wonder what the effect is on the community.
Government members may laugh about this anecdote, but here is the crux of this issue: what is the effect on the community and what is my responsibility as a consumer of alcohol to my community? My community bears the cost of harmful alcohol use and alcohol abuse. Although I might appreciate the convenience and the low cost of low-price alcohol, I need to think about the effect on my community. I look forward to the select committee process when many submitters will talk about that and other issues.
SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga)
: In the recent past there has been the discovery of Stone Age beer jugs from about 10,000 BC, or thereabouts, and the evidence essentially indicates to archaeologists that beer probably preceded bread as a staple consumed by humans. I suppose it goes to show that man cannot live on bread alone, but the point I make is that as long as there are people, there will be alcohol. I agree with Doug Sellman that alcohol may well be a drug. I agree with him, but I say that it will always be with us.
I am not being fatalistic about this; I accept absolutely that something should be done. I accept there is a range of drinking habits. My father, in my entire 34 years on this earth, has never ever touched a drop of alcohol. I have offered him a beer a number of times. I have offered him wine. I have probably offered him stronger things, but he has never, to my knowledge, in the last 34 years, touched a drop of alcohol. I am not saying that everyone needs to be like that, but that that is one valid response to alcohol. Then there are moderate drinkers, and of course there are heavy drinkers or, as some would say, problem drinkers, in our society, and that is where this bill comes in.
In recent history we have liberalised our drinking laws. We know that Lianne Dalziel and other members voted for that legislation—and I am not blaming them—and as a country we liberalised the alcohol laws substantially in 1989. I think we all—or certainly most of us, other than three ACT members—agree that we went too far, and that those changes in the law have led, certainly in part, to perhaps a culture change and to harmful drinking as a society. In this bill we swing the pendulum back somewhat, and we focus on harm. In terms of policy we do not lurch, as I think Lianne Dalziel, Jim Anderton, and members on the left would have us do. There is no point in policy lurches to one extreme and then, 20-something years later—or 30 years later, I should say—back to another extreme.
A key word in all this, as Simon Power has said, is “balance”, or being realistic about what can be achieved through the law.
Sue Moroney: Simon, if you want to call the Law Commission a “lurch”, that’s up to you.
SIMON BRIDGES: Frankly, I do not want to see a set of laws that penalise moderate drinkers—but maybe the member opposite does—the sort of people Iain Lees-Galloway talked about, who go to the supermarket and buy some bottles of wine to enjoy at their barbecue with friends. I do not want to see a law like that.
Sue Moroney: How would the Law Commission’s recommendations jeopardise that?
SIMON BRIDGES: The member opposite, Sue Moroney, may want to see that happen, but I do not.
I also acknowledge the comments of those ACT members who will vote against the bill, because I agree with them to some extent. We also have to acknowledge that we live in a free society where freedom should be valued, where people are hopefully mainly responsible—hopefully mainly have an eye to the serious harm that this drug, alcohol, can cause—but nevertheless where they are free to drink, are free to have beer, wine—
Sue Moroney: Free to beat up the wife.
SIMON BRIDGES: —and even cocktails in bars. Sue Moroney says: “Free to beat up the wife.” That is a disgraceful thing to say, because I do not think that any responsible member in this House wants to see that. By arguing for a freer society, I do not think anyone in this House is arguing for that sort of thing. We are merely saying that the pendulum in 1989 actually swung far too far in favour of liberal laws and free access—any time, anywhere—and a number of other things.
We want to put the balance back in, but in doing that we need to be balanced. We need to make sure that people are not penalised if they are moderate drinkers, and that we appreciate and accept that people are free in our country to drink—we are not going to prohibition—and to do so, we hope, responsibly.
As someone who is on the Justice and Electoral Committee, which will be considering the bill, I say in closing that it is an important point that the bill is a starting point; it is not the end point. We will certainly be listening very carefully, I am sure, to the hundreds of submissions we will get. We want to have sensible submissions, and we will want to change the law when good points are made. All select committee processes should be taken seriously, but the process on this one, perhaps, should be even more so. We really will be listening, and this bill is seen very much as a starting point.
Finally, I will not go through the specific provisions, but one provision—and probably not the most important—concerns what we are doing in relation to ready-to-drink alcohol. We are limiting the amount of alcohol in such drinks and limiting the size of the bottles. I acknowledge John Church, a constituent, who came and saw me about this some months ago. He came in with a large raspberry-flavoured pre-mixed drink; I think it was called Big Foot. He talked to me very graphically and emotionally about the effect that it was having in his community. He saw young people buying that drink, which looked like Fanta. The young people were certainly of an age when Fanta was all they should have been drinking, yet they were out on the streets drinking the other. That is just one vivid example of where we are seeking, and where we will be effecting, change in this law for the better, so that the pendulum can come some way back, but so that we can still live in a free society where we are not penalising moderate drinkers.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Alcohol Reform Bill be now read a first time.
||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 38; Green Party 9; ACT New Zealand 2 (Boscawen, Hide); Māori Party 5; Progressive 1; United Future 1.
||ACT New Zealand 3 (Calvert, Douglas, Roy H).
|Bill read a first time.
referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee.