Monday, May 28, 2012

Truth column Friday May 25

 Last Friday's Truth column:

The alcohol reform debate is boring. New Zealand has been agonising over alcohol since Adam was a boy. Parliament has tried to control its sale and consumption  since the 1800s. Then, lobby groups like the Salvation Army pushed abstinence; today, an alcohol tax hike. Dealing with lives ravaged by alcohol they forget most drinkers do not have a problem. To the contrary. People are now able to enjoy New Zealand-made boutique beers of international quality, visits to vineyards, wine and food festivals and economic benefits - like jobs - that vintners and brewers provide.

Yet all we hear is bad news about 'booze'. Particularly young drinkers. Which is somewhat forgetful of those doing much of the moaning - the middle-aged. Look back to their heyday to find a far worse culture of drink-driving for instance. In 1990, 139 15-24 year-olds affected by alcohol/drugs were involved in fatal crashes. Twenty years later the number had fallen to 54. After-match drinking was chronic and flat 'parties' were frequent. Drunken youth weren't as obvious because the 'Courtenay Places' didn't buzz all night. But young people using and abusing alcohol is no new thing.

Ironically, it is much harder for teenagers to purchase alcohol now than it was in the seventies and eighties yet  lobbyists and legislators still aren't satisfied. Some want the purchase-age put back to twenty, sales from convenience stores banned, trading hours cut and excise lifted.

As parents we want our kids to learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately human nature is such that they need to learn from their own. We hope and pray they survive those mistakes - the vast majority do. And they grow up in the process. But as a country, are we growing up?

Next month parliament will probably raise the purchase-age and impose further restrictions. Yet another exercise in punishing the responsible for the behaviour of the irresponsible. Par for the course in New Zealand I'm afraid. 


Rob of Inv said...

Did this ever go up on the Truth site?
I can't find it, but might be me just being a bit thick

Lindsay Mitchell said...

No Rob. The site is still showing the 10 May column. I'll ask editor to update.