Mum, can we go to the pub?

by frog

So say I’m 19 and my, like, favourite indy band ever is coming to New Zealand to play at the King’s Arms. I own every CD AND the limited edition live album, plus several t-shirts and posters. I’m SO there, right?

Wrong – unless I can convince my mum to come with me.

If Labour MP Martyn Gallagher’s private members bill is passed as recommended by the Law and Order Select Committee today, this scenario is going to become horribly common, as 18 and 19 year olds will be prevented from drinking on licensed premises unless accompanied by their “former guardian” or legal spouse over the age of 20. Note the use of “former” – they can’t be accommpanied by their legal guardians, since they are too old to have one now.

The exception to the rule is 18 and 19 year old bar staff, who will be allowed to watch the gig for free while pouring drinks that they themselves aren’t legally allowed to purchase. Oh, and 18 and 19 year olds IN the band will be allowed to play.

These bizarre exceptions highlight just how ridiculous this law would be if passed, and show the punitive nature of the proposed law change. Why should 18 and 19 year olds be punished for New Zealand’s unhealthy booze culture? Evidence suggests that the problems of alcohol-related harms are by no means restricted to youth drinkers – binge-drinking is considered socially acceptable in just about all spheres of New Zealand society (including, I might add, among many MPs) – and there’s also no conclusive evidence that the upward trend in alcohol-related harms for youth wasn’t well established before the drinking age was lowered in 1999.

Raising the legal age of purchase isn’t going to address our problems with alcohol – policy measures like education and restrictions on advertising are. Unfortunately the restrictions on broadcast alcohol advertising that are part of the package of proposed changes will achieve very little, as they assume that young people don’t watch TV after 10pm which is obviously not true, and don’t apply to radio. The Greens actually have a private members bill to ban ALL broadcast alcohol advertising which was pulled from the ballot recently, which would be of much more use.

For some background reading on this issue, you can see the select committee report on the bill to raise the purchase age here, and on the advertising restriction positions here. Metiria’s press release on the issue is here, and covers the report here.

frog says

Published in Parliament | Society & Culture by frog on Fri, October 20th, 2006   


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