What a doctor and mother of a King's College student wrote to fellow school parent John Key after the death of 16-year-old James Webster.

James died in his sleep at the weekend after drinking outside a birthday party. Mr Key's son, Max, attends King's College.

Dr Margaret Abercrombie's letter in full:

Dear John,

Today my son ( and yours) dresses in formal uniform to go to school and remember another student who has died this year! This time it is even more tragic, this is a preventable death, and right now you and your colleagues can act to reduce the chances of this and other alcohol related tragedies happening.

Tomorrow I will go to work in Manukau and talk again to many young women and some men about their unwanted rapes, assaults, pregnancies, and... their binge drinking. It is no coincidence that the drinking goes hand in hand with the other problems! I see it every day, as a doctor in a family planning clinic I take the drinking history on every patient and talk to them as I can, in the short consultation. But I only talk to a few every day and only some of them will be able to swim against the tide and culture of drinking that is so prevalent today.

You and your colleagues, right now have the ability to change the culture of excessive drinking. By lifting the purchase age, reduce alcohol accessibility and advertising, increasing prices, and reducing drink-driving levels, you can make a significant differences for our youth and others of today. It is ok to drink but not ok to have it impact on so more other areas of life. It reduces productivity, has huge, medical, policing and legal costs, as well as the emotional cost of death, road traffic accident, violent crime, assault, rape.

This is a huge issue for our country, we need to be the best we can, not hampered by a cultural hangup, that does not help our young of today. Our future for New Zealand relies on our people particularly the young being the best they can be, not performing under the cloud of hang over, alcohol crimes, or dependence. You can reduce the rate of this and encourage us to see a responsible way to manage this going forward.

Or perhaps explain to me why this is just not reasonable?


Dr. Margaret Abercrombie