Within hours of the release yesterday of the Law Commission's blueprint to tackle a rising tide of alcohol-related harm, the Government said it was unlikely to support key aspects including an increase in liquor prices and a party vote on the alcohol buying age issue.

But Justice Minister Simon Power indicated he was interested in measures to limit the availability of alcohol where that may have an impact on crime.

Proposals to restore the alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20 and to increase prices using tax hikes, were among the 153 recommendations made by the Law Commission in its 500-page report "Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm".

Over the last two decades, New Zealand's liquor laws had become more liberal and that was contributing to a widespread, unhealthy binge drinking culture, Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer said.

The harm was particularly apparent among young New Zealanders since the alcohol buying age was lowered to 18 in 1999.

He said international evidence was clear that "price is one of the most effective policies to combat alcohol-related harm".

That could be achieved by a number of mechanisms, including increasing tax or excise on alcohol or a minimum pricing scheme to reduce the availability of alcohol at "pocket money prices," Sir Geoffrey said.

Labour's justice spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel welcomed the report as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address a big social problem and said it was "important the Government doesn't pick and choose among the recommendations".

But Prime Minister John Key began doing that within hours of the report's release, ruling out an increase in excise.

"I'm sure there will be some recommendations we will adopt but one thing there is literally no appetite for is to increase excise taxes," Mr Key said.

"A substantial increase in excise would affect all consumers of alcohol and we think that would be unfair."

Other pricing measures were not on the Government's agenda, he said.

In spite of the commission's hope the Government would take its recommendations "as an integrated package rather than cherry picking the more politically palatable elements", Sir Geoffrey was diplomatic about the Prime Minister's immediate response.

"The reality is that there are some recommendations in the report that will find favour with the Government and others that don't."

The Government also appeared likely to differ with Sir Geoffrey on whether any vote on restoring the alcohol purchase age to 20 from 18 should be decided by a conscience vote where MPs vote according to their own or their constituents' views rather than along party lines.

Sir Geoffrey said liquor laws were "the hardest legislation to do" because of this.

"Conscience voting produces bad law, we've got a history of that in this area."

But Mr Key indicated the purchase age was likely to remain subject to a conscience vote."It's deeply felt by parliamentarians and I don't propose to change that."

Sir Geoffrey's comments appear to reflect his concerns that the liquor bill containing the commission's recommendations will end up being subject to amendment and compromise on the floor of the House - the fate of past measures.

However, Justice Minister Simon Power said the Government's response was "likely to be framed as regulatory in nature, with an emphasis on alcohol availability and licensing".

Mr Power said he was particularly interested in how that may affect offending and crime rates.

The report recommends changes to liquor licensing to give local authorities responsibility for tailoring licence conditions to their communities.

That would require them to bear in mind factors including socio-economic make-up of the area, the range and level of alcohol related problems there and whether the area was at or near "saturation" in terms of "the cumulative impact of licensed premises".