Keep It 18 press release


The youth wings of the National, Labour, Green and ACT parties have joined forces in the Keep It 18 campaign, to tell their MPs that increasing the purchase age for alcohol to 20 is the wrong thing to do.

“Parliament has twice voted for the purchase age to be 18, and it is disappointing that the Law Commission is trying to turn the clock back again,” said group spokesperson Jenna Raeburn.

In 1999 Parliament voted to change the age of purchase from 20 to 18 by 59 votes to 55. The previous law had numerous exemptions to it, so in fact 18 year olds had been able to legally drink alcohol in licensed premises for many decades.

In 2006 a move to change it back to 18 was defeated 49 votes to 72. The members of Keep It 18 urge MPs to not spend time on trying to reverse history, but instead to focus on measures that target problem drinkers, rather than seek to punish all 140,000 18 and 19 year olds.

“While primarily focused on the purchase age, we also are concerned over the proposed nationwide setting of closing times, and mandating a one way policy for bars after 2 am. In our opinion, these also fail to target problem drinkers, and again will disadvantage the many responsible young people who enjoy a night out dancing and drinking with friends.”

Young Nationals President Daniel Fielding said “Let’s not have a return to nanny state policies, a blanket measure of raising the drinking age will not change the drinking culture. This can only be achieved by introducing measures that places responsibility back onto the individual“

Nicola Wood, Young Labour spokesperson for Keep It 18 said “Young Labour feel a higher drinking age would serve only to exacerbate the harms caused by alcohol. If we want to create a culture of responsible drinking, we need policy which better enables young people to make positive decisions about how they use alcohol, while at the same time acknowledging that this broad problem cannot be pinned on one sector of society. We will oppose any change to the law which discriminates unfairly against young people “

Zachary Dorner, Young Greens spokesperson said “Raising the drinking age has more to do with pointing the finger at young people than solving the real issues. What we need to do is to take a look at ourselves and start treating alcohol as the harmful drug that it is”

ACT on Campus President Peter McCaffrey said “Politicians have no right to tell New Zealanders what they can consume and when they can consume it. The government’s role is to protect you from others not from yourself. The government should focus on targeting people who are causing harm to others rather than act as a nanny-state, telling everyone how much fun they can have “

Jenna Raeburn continued “All our political parties have 18 and 19 year old members who are allowed to vote, allowed to marry, allowed to have sex, and trusted enough to go out and do volunteer work for their parties. Saying that these same members can not be trusted to purchase a bottle of wine from a supermarket or a pint of beer at a bar is hypocritical and insulting, and we urge all MPs in Parliament to reject an age change.”

“We accept the problems caused by alcohol abuse in our society, and are happy to work with MPs in identifying which proposals put forward by the Law Commission are worth supporting. But increasing the purchase age is not one of them. Criminalising 140,000 18 and 19 year olds is the wrong answer,” concluded Miss Raeburn.

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