For immediate release
— Wellington, Wednesday 2 May 2012.
Alcohol law reform – yeah right.
The Government’s updated alcohol law reform proposals are little more than paying lip service to a problem that is wrecking lives and haemorrhaging billions of tax dollars.
The Government appears to expect its citizens to continue to meet the exorbitant social and fiscal costs of alcohol abuse by declining to provide robust legislation to mitigate the damage, Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts says.
New Zealand citizens spoke clearly in their submissions to the Law Commission review. The commission’s excellent final report provided the solutions and plan for a substantial reform to counter alcohol abuse in New Zealand. It is hugely disappointing to see most of their recommendations ignored, Major Roberts says.
The World Health Organisation has identified raising alcohol tax as the most cost-effective policy to address the harm caused by hazardous drinking, and this has been dismissed out of hand by the Government, he says.
“There is little evidence the Government wants to address the real problem driving the heavy drinking culture so damaging to New Zealand society, and this is deeply worrying,” Major Roberts says.
The Salvation Army recommends the Government immediately increase excise on alcohol by 25 per cent. This would have little effect on moderate drinkers but would reduce alcohol consumption by teenagers and heavy drinkers – the most price-sensitive consumers – by as much as 10 per cent.
The Salvation Army’s deep and long-held concerns over how alcohol is sold and consumed comes from its close relationship with those most badly affected by the misuse of alcohol. These people range from the families of alcoholics seeking counselling, food parcels or emergency housing through to the 3500 people it treats for addictions through its 10 Bridge Programme addiction treatment centres.
Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Donald Bell (Territorial Commander)
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory