NZPA on Keep It 18

The four youth wings had a joint press conference at Parliament today on the Law Commission report. NZPA report:

Keep it 18 spokeswoman Jenna Raeburn, 22, said today it was a contradiction that 18 and 19-year-olds could work in a bar, vote, get married or become a prostitute and politicians were considering taking away their right to drink alcohol.

There were also benefits of drinking, which were not mentioned in the Law Commission report, she said.

“The fact that people like to drink speaks for itself.

“Going out and drinking, and even going out and getting drunk, can be a lot of fun.”

Ms Raeburn said raising the alcohol purchase age would punish the majority for the actions of a few problem drinkers.

There were quite a few questions about what is meant by “getting drunk” and “binge drinking”. Jenna was differentiating between what many of us have been – tipsy type drunk, and heavily drunk, where you cause damage to yourself or others.

The Law Commission report I’m told defined binge drinking as four or more drinks in a night for a woman, and six for a man. Jenna rejected that definition, and some journalists were asserting you can’t disagree with the science quoted.

That got me thinking. If four drinks or more in a night represents binge drinking, then I would say 95% of people at the annual press gallery party are binge drinkers.

If you have six drinks in an hour, that is probably binge drinking. But six drinks over a six hour party, with plenty of food, is not – well to me anyway.

ACT on Campus president Peter McCaffrey, 22, said Members of Parliament who wanted to raise the drinking age should reject any votes they receive from 18 and 19-year-olds at the next election.

“If an 18-year-old is not rational enough to be able to have a beer after work with their workmates, how can they possibly make such an important decision as to who should represent them in Parliament?”

Heh that was a great point.

Young Labour spokeswoman Nicola Wood, 17, said the Government would do better to enforce current law rather than punishing the majority of the 140,000 18 and 19-year-olds who were responsible drinkers.

“Creating a culture of responsible drinking only comes from policy which better enables young people to make positive decisions about how they use alcohol.”

There is some clear evidence that existing laws are not enforced. Off memory only one conviction for serving an intoxicated person and 27 for serving under age.

Young Greens spokesman Zachary Dorner, 20, said many older people also drank excessively.

“Eighteen and 19-year-olds are not the problem — drinking is.”

Raising the purchase age of alcohol was a “discriminatory solution” and could not address the cultural issues around drinking in New Zealand.

The law was also likely to be flouted, he said.

Mr Dorner proposed restricting alcohol supply and advertising, increasing education and treatment accessibility and community control as the best ways to improve the drinking culture here.

Solving the cultural issues around binge drinking are not easy, but making it illegal for a 19 year old to have a glass of wine, with their parents, in a restaurant will just make things worse in my opinion.

Young Nats president Daniel Fielding, 23, said an 18-year-old has the responsibilities of adulthood so there was no justification for restricting their right to consume alcohol.

Young people were a “convenient scapegoat”, he said.

“Solutions need to focus on problem drinkers, not punish all drinkers.

“A blanket measure of raising the drinking age will not change the drinking culture.”

It says something when all four of these parties have their youth wings in agreement on the age issue.

Scoop also has a story, plus audio.

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