Select Committee Supports Raising Drinking Age to 41
Satire by Lyndon Hood
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The Law and Order select committee today reported to Parliament in favour of a bill to increase the legal age for purchasing alcohol to 41.
In a survey of New Zealanders aged over 39 almost three quarters of respondents supported the change.
"Our young and young-to-middle-age people drink far too much," said Progressive leader Jim Anderton, "This will help cut down on those conspicuous problems. A 41-year-old is more mature and much better mentally equipped to handle alcohol than an 18-year-old. I believe this will also help stop alcohol falling into the hands of minors, which nobody is in favour of."
The Green's Metiria Turei says the committee has not seen evidence the proposed changes will have the desired benefits, and considers raising the age to be unjust. "How can we say that 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 through 40-year-old people - legal adults - who can vote, join the army, get a loan, bet at the TAB, consent to sex, consent to medical treatment and get married, is not old enough to have a drink.," she said, "The solution is dealing with New Zealands drinking culture, not in age discrimination." Turei was born in 1970.
Health lobby groups have also welcomed the change.
"Alcohol abuse is prevalent through out New Zealand society, and this is no silver bullet," said ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy, "But there is a disproportionate amount of harmful drinking in the 0 to 41 age group, and this is a first step to control that. Of course, to make it work properly we will need mandatory national ID cards."
As recommended by the committee, the bill contains some exceptions. Adults under the age of 41 will be allowed to drink in a public house if accompanied by a parent, guardian, former guardian, former parent, partner, scoutmaster or a registered justice of the peace.