Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway remembers fondly the days when his cultured palate was enriched with vast quantities of 50 cent cans of Rheineck beer.

The Labour MP was addressing the Alcohol Reform Bill in the house - the last alcohol debate parliament will hear as the bill will now be parked until after the election.

This means a vote on the purchase age is not expected until next parliamentary term.

Mr Lees-Galloway was explaining how supermarkets - where 70 per cent of alcohol is purchased - effectively loss-lead in a way that allows them to plausibly deny they do it.


"They take the rebate they get across the entire range of products that they receive from one supplier and they apply that to one particular product on any one given week, thus drastically reducing the price.

"I remember this from my student days. We would always look at the cheapest product that week, whether it be Tui, or Rheineck, or some of those other quality products. I remember Rheineck being 50c a can - it was disgusting.

"And this is the prime example of buying something for one purpose only, and that is for its alcohol content and its cheapness, because you wouldn't buy Rheineck on the taste ... So, yes, we do need to increase the price and there is loss-leading."

The debate saw the rehashing of familiar arguments, with the opposition lamenting how strong the bill could have been on price and advertising, and National MPs emphasising personal and community responsibility and how the bill should not punish those who drink responsibly.

Maori Party MP Rahui Katene cited the opening of the Rugby World Cup for examples of alcohol harm.

"Drunk and unruly passengers were hitting the emergency lever on the trains, and causing chaos. Wild party goers were creating havoc at the viaduct, and ... at least six paddlers on the tai tokerau waka were taken to hospital after being assaulted by drunk members of the public."

When National MP Simon Bridges said the Government had swung the pendulum away from the liberal status quo, Labour's Lianne Dalziel interjected: "You're not passing the law before the election!"

National's Paul Quinn also earned a strong reaction after he accused former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who oversaw the Law Commission's review into liquor laws, of bludging off the state.


"He didn't need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars travelling the country to inform himself about alcohol. All he had to do was open up his window on Roxburgh St and take a whiff of the air or actually walk two minutes down the hill to Courtenay Pl.

"But no no no, typical Geoffrey Palmer, bludging on the taxpayer doing a roadshow around New Zealand and then producing a report full of rhetoric."

The bill passed its second reading with the support of all parties except the Act Party.