NZ Herald has run a poll on the alcohol age, addressing the imminent Alcohol Reform Bill which will consider the purchase age for buying liquor.
MPs will make a conscience vote on whether to keep it at 18, raise it to 20, or raise it to 20 for off-licensed retailers.
- 54.4% – 20 years old
- 25% – 20 for off-licensed stores
- 19.4% – keep the age kept at 18 for both on-licences (bars and restaurants) and off-licences (supermarkets and bottle stores).
The problem with having polls on age related issues like this is that most of the poll respondents will not be affected by any change, apart from thinking they are telling young people what they can or can’t do.
This issue is one where MPs need to evaluate the wider good versus the rights of a small age group.
Dunedin based National MP Michael Woodhouse had a good approach, issuing a challenge to young people to convince him they could address drinking problems responsibly:
I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to how I will vote on the purchase age of alcohol. Young people have been pushing hard for me to vote for the status quo, ie 18 for both on and off licence.
Here’s what will definitely get me voting 18/18:
- if young people actively promote the idea getting trashed is dumb, in the same way that smoking or drink-driving is dumb
- that student organisations pass remits promoting moderation, and rules expelling people from organisations (after say a three strikes process) for excessive drinking; messages saying alcohol consumption is normal – excessive consumption isn’t
- messages that the taxpayer is entitled to expect its money given to students is not thrown up against the wall of the Cook.
Fair enough, young people should step up and demonstrate a responsible attitude to drinking.
If they do that some of the older ones who frown down on them via polls might learn something about where the drinking culture is taught.