A lobby group masquerading as a charity

is somehow a registered charity. Even worse their key officers are all on the publc payroll, and further get hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers funding for research to back their highly political advocacy.

As an example, I give you some extracts from their latest newsletter. The full newsletter is over the break:

The National-led government was very strongly lobbied by the industry during the time of the Law Commission review and they subsequently delivered exactly what the industry wanted – a limp squib of a response to the Law Commission’s recommendations. They allowed themselves to be  so easily influenced because it was consistent with their out-dated neo-liberal economic ideology. This ideology views “busyness” (GDP) as the best measure of a healthy economy. A GDP motivated economy welcomes an ongoing damaging drinking culture in the same way it salivates over a damaged major city (Christchurch), because damage, misery, and need for treatment and repair makes for “busyness” and therefore increases GDP, the neo-liberal economic god.  

I don’t mind people having views like this. I do mind them getting huge amounts of taxpayer funding to lobby for their views, and I also mind them masquerading as a charity.

UPDATE: It seems they are not a charity, just an NGO. A friend donated to them a while back and got a tax deductible receipt so on that basis I assumed they had charitable registration.

ALCOHOL ACTION NZ

NEWSLETTER – SEPTEMBER 2013

 

Dear Colleague

 

1. Conference 2014 – “Action on Alcohol – Change is Coming”

2. Local Alcohol Plans (LAPs) – Local councils might succeed where central government has failed

3. An Alcohol Action group in every electorate

4. Alcohol causes cancer

5. Political update

 

*****************************************************************************

 

1. Conference 2014 – “Action on Alcohol – Change is Coming”

Mark this date in your diary – Thursday 20th March 2014 – the annual AANZ Conference at Te Papa, Wellington. The title of the conference is “Action on Alcohol – Change is Coming”.

 

2014 is an election year at the end of which will be a new coalition government and the prospects of a fresh chapter unfolding on alcohol law reform in New Zealand, whether it be a National- or Labour-led coalition.

 

We are very pleased to also announce that Prof Mike Daube from Curtin University, Western Australia is going to be our international keynote speaker for 2014. Mike is Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University and Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth. Before moving to Curtin in 2005 he was Director General of Health for WA and Chair of the National Public Health Partnership.

 

So you can see why we’re excited about him coming. He’s a scientist who knows how large bureaucracies work and how to influence political processes. He is currently President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) and Co-Chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol. Whenever Mike speaks you feel the winds of change.

 

Further details of the programme will be finalised within the next two months.

 

 

2. Local Alcohol Plans (LAPs) – Local councils might succeed where central government has failed

LAPs give local councils an opportunity to undertake alcohol law reform and be successful where central government has dismally failed. This is the best opportunity for alcohol law reform at the current time and we must all get involved with submissions to our local councils.

 

LAPs are a little like brief intervention for heavy drinkers in primary care. If every primary care practice in New Zealand was on the front foot and actively ensured that the alcohol status of all its patients who attends the practice was known and the appropriate level of intervention offered as now occurs with tobacco there would be conspicuous social change for the better. Alcohol-related harm would noticeably reduce because the degree of heavy drinking would be lessened through this broad-based effort.

 

Equally, if every local council brought in a Local Alcohol Policy that brought the hours of drug trading back to something civilised eg 9am – 9pm for off-licence and 9am – midnight for on-licence, and established a sinking lid policy on existing liquor licences that favoured restaurants over bars, specialty liquor stores over supermarkets, and kept them away from schools, New Zealand would become a much better place to live in with alcohol on its way to becoming de-normalised.

 

Of course, it would have been much simpler and straightforward for central government to bring in the reforms on hours and number of liquor licences that the majority of New Zealanders want, and not put everyone to the expense of time and money in engaging in the multiple processes within the various jurisdictions across New Zealand.

 

But the big bogey for government was the alcohol industry.

 

Central government was lobbied and bullied into submission by the alcohol industry during the time of the Law Commission’s review on alcohol. The very cynical Alcohol NON-Reform Bill was the pitiful National-led government’s outcome of this influence, engineered by Simon Power, led by John Key with Steven Joyce in close attendance, and finished off by Judith Collins, with Peter Dunne clapping from the back room all the way.

 

Local governments are now going to come under the same intense lobbying and bullying. It will be a brave set of people’s local representatives who stand up to the industry and bring in measures that local people want. Brave politicians need to feel the support of people and that is our job.

 

We can directly express support to brave politicians (and even encourage timid ones to become more active) by email or letter, or even better still by visiting them. Support for change can also be expressed through letters to the editor in local newspapers. Opportunities for letters appear just about every day in the news.

 

The Christchurch City Council was congratulated in the last AANZ newsletter for developing a draft LAP including hours of trading along the lines of what Police and Public Health experts had advised them and very much in line with those previously suggested by AANZ:

 

Off- licence             9am-9pm

 

On-licence

Central CBD:         9am-1am (with a one-way door until 3am)

Other:                     9am-1am

 

The industry has gone to town, advising everyone the world is about to end in Christchurch if hours of trading like these are brought in. The “Scream Test” (how much the industry screams) – a very good marker of whether a measure is likely to be effective at reducing alcohol-related harm or not – is confirming that in Christchurch  more civilised hours of trading as above would indeed be effective.

 

 

3. An Alcohol Action group in every electorate

AANZ vision is to see an Alcohol Action group in each of the 60 electorates in New Zealand, where local activists will be developing close relationships with community leaders, Council members and local MPs, getting stuck in with liquor licensing hearings and other submissions and regularly submitting letters to the editor to the local newspaper.

 

Perhaps you would like to set up a group in your electorate but not quite sure how to get it started. If this is the case, contact Jacqui Robinson, National Network Coordinator: Jacqui James-Robinson [jacqui.alcoholaction@gmail.com].

 

The Network meets once a month via a teleconference to discuss progress, both nationally and locally.

 

There is also an annual face-to-face meeting in Wellington, on the day following the AANZ conference, for anyone in the Network, where we get together to strategize for the year ahead.

 

The next of these face-to-face meetings will be Friday 21st March 2014 in Wellington. If you want more information about this annual meeting, contact Jacqui.

 

 

4. Alcohol causes cancer

We very nearly decided to have next year’s conference on the theme of “Alcohol causes cancer” and it remains a high contender for 2015.

 

Jennie Connor’s recent work on the burden of alcohol-related harm in New Zealand featured the high rate of alcohol-related deaths due to cancer. In people who are 79 years and younger, breast cancer is the most common alcohol-related death amongst both Maori and non-Maori women, colon cancer is fourth for non-Maori women, and oesophageal cancer is the fifth highest cause of alcohol-related death in non-Maori men.

 

Most New Zealanders know that smoking causes cancer, but many New Zealanders will look at you strangely if you say that alcohol causes cancer. Yet it does.

 

Alcohol, which is ethanol, is a Group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and so is ethanol’s major metabolite, acetaldehyde.

 

If we can get a new group of New Zealanders knowing that alcohol causes cancer – only about 10% of the population (the “tipping point”) is required – new legislation which more strongly regulates the supply, marketing and sale of alcohol will be virtually passed overnight.

 

 

5. The politics

The National-led government was very strongly lobbied by the industry during the time of the Law Commission review and they subsequently delivered exactly what the industry wanted – a limp squib of a response to the Law Commission’s recommendations. They allowed themselves to be  so easily influenced because it was consistent with their out-dated neo-liberal economic ideology. This ideology views “busyness” (GDP) as the best measure of a healthy economy. A GDP motivated economy welcomes an ongoing damaging drinking culture in the same way it salivates over a damaged major city (Christchurch), because damage, misery, and need for treatment and repair makes for “busyness” and therefore increases GDP, the neo-liberal economic god.

 

But there is also pragmatism and some common sense within the National church and so we should not abandon hope about National Party led alcohol reform. Work is continuing on minimum pricing, alcohol marketing and adult drink-driving limits as a result of government direction, and other work involving alcohol is being undertaken eg the Health Select Committee on child abuse.

 

More than several National MPs have privately confided they support much stronger alcohol reform than what was delivered in the Alcohol NON-Reform Bill. Many National supporters will be relieved if there is some progress made in this electoral cycle on alcohol reform and are telling their MPs.

 

The Labour Party may be undergoing a renaissance with a change of leader, much needed publicity, and an insistent call for unity. But the fact remains; Labour has not yet announced to the public what they will do about alcohol reform. Yes, there was a Labour Party minority report from the Select Committee that protested National’s capitulation to the alcohol industry, but there was no subsequent Labour Party SOP forthcoming in the Parliamentary process; only individual Labour party members’ SOPs. A public promise was made (at the AANZ conference, March 2012) that Labour’s alcohol policy would soon be declared, but nothing has yet arrived. Let’s hope Labour will be able to come up with magnificent policy in time for the AANZ conference, March 2013 and confirm “Change is Coming”.

 

Colin Craig has recently signalled that alcohol reform could be included in the Conservative Party’s coalition agreement with National at the next election, which parallels public comments related to the Maori Party’s position. With polls showing that ~75% of New Zealanders support much stronger alcohol reform, it is not surprising these manoeuvrings are occurring.

 

Join the public signal to local and national politicians.

 

Suggestion: write one alcohol letter a month, either directly to a politician or to one of the media. There is something in the newspaper or on the radio or on TV every day that is crying out to be commented on.

 

And let’s keep focused on the 5+ Solution:

 

1. Raise alcohol prices

2. Raise the purchase age

3. Reduce alcohol accessibility

4. Reduce advertising and sponsorship

5. Increase drink-driving countermeasures

PLUS: Increase treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers.

 

Unfortunately many New Zealanders still believe in the 6+ Solution which includes alcohol education programmes, and of course the alcohol industry push the  myth of alcohol education being an effective way of changing behaviour at every opportunity; more on the ineffectiveness of alcohol education in the next newsletter.

 

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