New Zealand has led the way by responding to gun laws so the time has come to manage another insidious threat to our nation's wellbeing: Alcohol.
So far successive governments have failed to legislate against
this unmitigated public health disaster despite working parties suggesting necessary various reforms to the Sale of Liquor Act.
BERL (Business and Economic Research Limited) has estimated alcohol costs $7.85 billion annually due to medical harm, motor accidents, inter-personal violence, murders, suicides and sexual assaults including attacks on ambulance, police and emergency department staff who care for intoxicated citizens.
Valid research demonstrates many cancers being attributable to alcohol use, let alone fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol induced dementia.
Intoxication is associated with 37 per cent of suicides and alcohol use is linked to mental health disorders.
Why the intransigence thus far? Political ideology and industry influence are clearly not the way to run public health policy.
Law Commission recommendations previously put to various governments are ignored, despite being achievable: Higher excise tax, fewer liquor outlets, restriction of hours and days of sale, raising the purchase age and increasing alcohol counselling accessibility.
Commercialisation of alcohol kills, and we can fix this.
Wol Hansen (Psychologist)
MMP a disaster
Bryan Gould's article on politicians headed "We get what we deserve" (Opinion, April 29) is mainly from his experience in the British Parliament.
He forgets one important point for New Zealand and that is we have MMP which, for the most part, has been a disaster.
Many of the list MPs (and there some good ones) are able to swan around with little responsibility and have all the time to plug at their particular hobby horses.
Their loyalty is to their party, not the people. A simple example is Tauranga's roading wherein we are suffering badly because Labour, along with Winston Peters, does not like us. In my view, even the bureaucrats in NZTA find a poor reason for not submitting Tauranga City's case up the line.
We have many list MPs representing Labour, NZ First and the Greens in our district, but they are effectively powerless. I am sure they recognise Tauranga's traffic problems but if they speak out they won't be reappointed to the list next election.
I do admit that we would be a lot worse off in our current MMP structure without the stabilising influence of NZ First. However, MMP leaves too much to chance and too much power to minority interests.
Remember many years ago when there was a referendum about reducing the number of MPs, I think from 120 down to 80. The people approved it. The politicians ignored it.
The cannabis law paper as leaked to the Nats, reveals the poor stance of MPs.
In regard to its effects, government responsibility, moral decisions, all easily side-stepped.
I am disappointed it got this far without decision-makers considering the obvious problems that we will all pay for if this shambles goes ahead.
Think about our employers. They will need to drug test all staff weekly. Police will need reliable equipment to take the same action on every kind of transport.
Court staff, hospital staff, politicians (in their decision making), all defence force personnel, emergency services, teachers of all levels, sports leaders ... there is no end to this list.
Worst of all we may add to road deaths big time, and deaths in heavy industry may increase in the short term, so the question remains ... who will take the responsibility for introducing this brain shrinking monster to our people?
I suggest it should be the idiots who vote "YES", because someone should always pay for introducing such poorly researched, dangerous practices to our country.
By speaking up, you may save the life of someone in your family, so don't be shy, let your MP know how you feel.
The Bay of Plenty Times welcomes letters from readers. Please note the following:
• Letters should not exceed 200 words.
• They should be opinion based on facts or current events.
• If possible, please email.
• No noms-de-plume.
• Letters will be published with names and suburb/city.
• Please include full name, address and contact details for our records only.
• Local letter writers given preference.
• Rejected letters are not normally acknowledged.
• Letters may be edited, abridged, or rejected at the Editor's discretion.
• The Editor's decision on publication is final.