Having declared all-out war on youth binge-drinking, why has the Government promptly spiked some of its biggest weapons?

It would be going too far - as the Greens have done - to label the Government's response to the Law Commission's review of alcohol laws as "spineless".

The Government has picked up 126 of the commission's 153 recommendations in full or in part.

The ban on serving alcohol to under-18s without first getting parental permission may prove unenforceable. But the prospect of a $2000 fine and a conviction at last gives parents a valid argument against hosting a party.

Also likely to be welcomed is the power to ban alcohol products which are particularly appealing to minors or dangerous to health.

Perhaps the most well-received measure will be the empowering of local communities to decide on the location, concentration and opening hours of liquor outlets.

However, when it comes to drinking age, excise tax, liquor advertising and minimum retail pricing - things that are likely to have some impact on the drinking culture - the Government is more reticent.

Justice Minister Simon Power acknowledged alcohol consumption is affected by price, but added that given other tax priorities, "now is not a suitable time" to raise excise taxes on alcohol. On that logic, "not now" means "not ever".

Similarly, the Government's reluctance to fully raise the drinking age to 20 is rationalised in part by noting the financial impact of removing 132,000 18- and 19-year-olds from the alcohol industry's market.

Meanwhile, that industry has been given a year to help work out a minimum pricing scheme to stop supermarkets selling booze at below-cost. So much for urgency.

The Cabinet has also rejected recommendations aimed at reducing younger persons' exposure to alcohol advertising and restricting the promotion of alcohol through sponsorship.

What this shows is economic considerations - stressed by the retail and liquor lobbies - guided much of the Cabinet's decision-making on the forthcoming new liquor law.

Buried at the back of the Cabinet paper is a separate report produced by Ministry of Justice officials. It says any package which did not use levers like raising tax rates, tightening advertising and sponsorship rules and changing the minimum drinking age would have a lesser impact on alcohol-related harm.

When the Business Roundtable praises you for not adopting "heavy-handed" measures, you have to ask yourself if you really have "struck the right balance" - as Power endlessly claimed yesterday.