Sue Kedgley just delivered the Green Party’s first reading speech about the Alcohol Reform Bill (ARB).
The final bill glosses over a lot of the essential recommendations from the Law Commission’s report. It fails to address the main causes of alcohol related harm: price, saturation advertising and marketing, and decreasing the blood alcohol limit to 0.5. These are all measures suggested in Alcohol Action’s 5+ Solution.
But the most disturbing thing about the ARB is not the lack of substance, but it is the misdirected approach of thinking that by stamping on peoples civil liberties you can stop alcohol related harm. The Bill as it stands will allow people to be arrested for the equivalent of a parking fine, threatened with arrest if they do not provide information, and it reverses the burden of proof onto the accused.
Put simply: we do not have to trample on the Bill of Rights to address New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture.
Sue wraps up her speech by noting that it’s not all bad. The Bill does allow for community control of alcohol, limits licensing aspects, and it allows for Local Alcohol Plans. So we’re going to be voting for the bill to go to Select Committee so we can fight to take the bad stuff out and put the good stuff in.