Alcohol Reform Bill only paying lip service to billion dollar problem

The Justice minister, Judith Collins, has announced that changes to the Alcohol Reform Bill are set to return to Parliament for final consideration next month. The aim of the Alcohol Reform Bill is to drive a change in our culture, she says.

Problem drinking is a major contributor to crime and a significant cause of public disorder and health problems in communities and the Alcohol Reform Bill will address these problems by empowering local communities to determine where and how alcohol is sold, increase personal and parental responsibility for the supply of alcohol, and introduce a risk-based licence fee regime, Collins said.

However The Salvation army believes the updated  Alcohol Reform Bill does little more than pay 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 abuse by declining to provide robust legislation to mitigate the damage”, Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts says.

“There is little evidence the Government wants to address the real problem driving the heavy culture so damaging to society, and this is deeply worrying,” he says.

“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”.

Director of the National Addiction Centre Doug Sellman says the Alcohol Reform Bill is “too timid”.

“It is worse than weak, the new bill is shocking,” he said.

“It is inexcusable that the government is too timid and too captured by the big alcohol-related businesses to tackle the real problem driving the heavy drinking culture in New Zealand – the vested interests of a powerful alcohol industry which will continue to enjoy relatively unregulated free market conditions to push their drug products at New Zealanders.”


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