INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Signs Death Warrant

Published: Mon 2 Aug 1999 01:07 PM
The decision to lower the drinking age to 18 years and to allow alcohol sales on Sundays has been decried by the Leader of Christian Heritage, Graham Capill.
“Those who voted for the changes will have blood on their hands,” says Capill. “There can be little doubt that those Members of Parliament responsible might as well have pulled the trigger on the lives of hundreds of New Zealanders due to their irresponsible decision in the House yesterday.”
“The flow on effect will most certainly be more car fatalities, suicide, addiction, crime, violence and unplanned pregnancies. With some of the world’s highest rates of teenage suicide and pregnancies how can MPs have decided to put more alcohol into even younger hands? What was sadly lacking here was conscience in the conscience vote.
“The Prime Minister, who has been portraying herself as a family loving leader, has helped bring about a situation which can only bring heartache to many thousands of families.
“To pass this legislation MPs ignored the substantial evidence that clearly demonstrates that lowering the drinking age and extending alcohol trading hours can only result in more carnage on our roads.”
In 1990, the Auckland Area Health Board was asked to analyse the potential impact of the extension to Sunday alcohol trading. The study found that, across the Auckland region the increased annual demand for emergency services would involve six fatalities, 80 serious and 180 minor injuries from alcohol related crashes.
As if this were not enough, evidence from New South Wales shows that the introduction of Sunday alcohol trading there in the late 1970s resulted in a 22% increase in fatal car crashes and a 28% increase in alcohol-related car crash injuries requiring hospital admission.
In dollar terms it has been estimated that alcohol already costs this country between 2.7% and 3.4% of Gross National Product that is about $2 billion a year and this can only increase under these legislative changes.
MPs also ignored the wishes of most New Zealanders last night.
Those MPs who voted in support of the changes not only showed a blatant disregard for the lives of young New Zealanders but the democratic process,” noted Capill. “More submissions were received by the select committee against the proposed lowering of the age than for it, but MPs in a ‘We know best’ attitude decided to ignore this.”
Anti-democratic MPs who voted for the changes appear to want to favour those that will profit financially from the exercise, such as the liquor industry, rather than those who have to deal with the tragic consequences of alcohol abuse, such as health institutions, and the Salvation Army.
“Teenagers do not have the same level of tolerance to alcohol as adults and this should have been taken into account,” stated Capill. “ALAC research shows that one third of teenagers are heavy drinkers who binge regularly and the legislative changes are likely to increase the adverse effects on our young people by shifting the de facto drinking age even lower.”
ENDS

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