Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

MP: 'Dirt cheap' alcohol cause of 'mayhem'

Lianne Dalziel said cheap alcohol access was leading to violence, unplanned pregnancies, and drunken young people. Photo / File
Lianne Dalziel said cheap alcohol access was leading to violence, unplanned pregnancies, and drunken young people. Photo / File

Labour MP Lianne Dalziel put up an impassioned case in Parliament last night for minimum pricing of alcohol, saying cheap access was leading to violence, unplanned pregnancies, and drunken young people.

"We are talking about people who will determine whether they have had a good night out by how little they can remember of it, not by the good time that they actually had."

In a debate on the Alcohol Law Reform Bill she said young drinker pre-loaded on cheap alcohol such as $6 bottles of wine from supermarket who did a"cost-trash" calculation when making their decisions about drink.

"How little can I pay for the amount of alcohol that will get me trashed?"

She said minimum pricing was not about increasing the price of all alcohol but increasing the price of the"dirt cheap alcohol - the alcohol that is cheaper than buying a bottle of Coca Cola or buying a bottle of milk."

"That dirt cheap alcohol is fuelling violence and mayhem and it is destroying people's ability to make confident decisions about things they are going to do with their lives. We have unplanned pregnancies in this country, the result of people doing what they otherwise wouldn't do other than under the influence of alcohol."

She said the issue had been the subject of "an outrageous level of lobbying" from powerful business interests.

A similar proposal in Scotland had been halted because pressure from the scotch whisky interests had taken precedence over the health and well-being of the Scots.

Justice Minister Judith Collins has ordered her officials to investigate minimum pricing and report back to her.

Lianne Dalziel's amendment would have given Ms Collins regulation-making power to implement minimum pricing, should the official's report back, rather than her having to get Parliament's agreement at a later stage.

The amendment was lost by 52 votes to 67.

Ms Collins said any suggestion that she had been under pressure from the alcohol industry was rubbish.

She did "care a fig" about pressure from the industry.

She said she had been lobbied by the hospitality industry for minimum pricing because for them it meant maximum profits.

The people who had been lobbying her against minimum pricing was not the industry but ordinary people, pensioners who did not want their alcohol price going up because of the irresponsibility of others.

Ms Collins disputed Lianne Dalziel's claim that young drinker pre-loaded on cheap wine.

"If anyone seriously thinks that young people are going into supermarkets and buying up wine at $6 a bottle then getting drunk, I dont think that is borne out by the facts - it's a different brand, it's a different style, it's a different age-group."

She said minimum pricing was a very blunt instrument.

A raft of other amendments put up by Opposition MPs were lost, including one from Louisa Wall wanting to ban liquor outlets from a kilometre of a school.

The committee stages were still being debated when the House rose last night.

- NZ Herald

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