Media Release – 11 December 2012
National’s Alcohol Reform Bill totally fails the public
“The National Government’s Alcohol Reform Bill, due to be passed today, totally fails the majority of New Zealanders who want action on the country’s heavy drinking problems.”
“John Key and his Government have capitulated to the alcohol industry and refused to control the intense advertising, marketing and super-availability of alcohol that will continue to drive the heavy drinking culture, said Professor Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action NZ.
“They have even refused to reduce New Zealand’s dangerously high alcohol driving level, which continues to allow legal drunk driving and which is out of step with the majority of other similar countries.”
“This is an unforgivable failure of leadership by John Key and National.”
“The legislation comes after three years of comprehensive review, thousands of submissions, and exhaustive debate. But the Bill is so weak that it will have no significant impact on alcohol-related harm.”
“Alcohol has been growing year by year into a major political issue and history will remember this Government’s utter failure to respond to the public concern. We await politicians with the strength and principles to lead on this issue”, added Professor Geoff Robinson.
“It is hard to understand how this Bill could have reached this point, when the Law Commission recommended alcohol reforms, the Chief Science Advisor advised alcohol reforms, national experts all backed alcohol reforms and more than three-quarters of the public supported alcohol reforms”.
“The Government have not articulated why they would pass a non-reform bill in the face of scientific evidence, popular support and expert advice,” continued Professor Jennie Connor.
“They haven’t explained why they are opting for the status quo, with all of its misery and waste and a five billion dollar a year price tag.”
“The only explanation that makes sense is that this National-led government is pandering to the alcohol industry, as part of an economic ideology that favours the private gains of big business over the public good and well-being of ordinary citizens. In this case, the product is no ordinary commodity, but a major public health menace.”
“The alcohol industry has huge capacity to finance its sophisticated marketing strategies, which include influencing policy makers. This government has not had the backbone to stand up to them.”
“But the New Zealand public are now aroused by the need for alcohol reform, which will only be further strengthened by this debacle in Parliament.”
“The campaign for effective alcohol law reform will go on. National has only delayed the inevitable. Just as happened with tobacco reform, parliamentary champions will emerge who are prepared to put the public first.”
“Meanwhile, history will judge those MPs who wilfully planned and led the wasted opportunity to do something to help the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders being harmed by weak alcohol laws. Their failure is seen in the Bill due to be passed in Parliament today – of particular note: Key, Dunne, Borrows, Joyce, Collins and Power”.
For more information:
Professor Doug Sellman
Director, National Addiction Centre
University of Otago, Christchurch
Professor Geoffrey Robinson
Chief Medical Officer
Capital & Coast District Health Board
Professor Jennie Connor
Head, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
University of Otago, Dunedin
Alcohol Action NZ