The centrepiece of the reforms is making it illegal for an adult to supply alcohol to a minor without their parent’s permission. Quite correctly, people have been asking the government how this will actually be enforced – are we going to waste the Police’s time running round after parents to determine whether a 17 year old was allowed to have a beer? The Government admits that it won’t be supplying any resources to enforce this law and obviously doesn’t expect the Police to waste their time. Rather, they are making the laughable argument that this law will give parents a new ‘tool’ to prevent other kids drinking at their place. As one of the journos asked Key as his press conference yesterday ‘do you really think that parents are being peer pressured by teens?’
Key responded by asserting that teens are drinking and having sex at younger and younger ages before saying ‘I don’t have any evidence to back that up’. There you have it New Zealand, more law-making based on Key’s guesses.
And what exact problem is this law meant to be solving anyway? Are kids really getting their booze from their mates’ parents? Like most Kiwis, I was drinking on weekends pretty regularly from about 16 onwards. I could count on one hand the number of times an adult was even present. We didn’t get booze from adults, we got it from our 6 foot 5 mate who just bought it at the store.
As John Campbell put to Simon Power last night, isn’t this just law for law’s sake?
Yep, it is. This is just the government’s attempt to appear to do something. As Campbell pointed out, the existing booze laws aren’t enforced – you can go into any pub in the country and see a pissed person being served. And as a country we wouldn’t have it any other way because (whisper it quietly) the point of going out drinking is to get intoxicated. This government has no intention of enforcing the existing law, let alone the new ones it’s passing.
Then there’s what they’ve chosen not to do. We all know that advertising has a huge influence over society. The banning of cigarette advertising went a long way to making it not normal, which led to a reduction in its use. But this is a government that supports big business’s right to make a profit above all else. Just as they won’t take sensible steps to make smoking less attractive, they have refused to put sensible limits on alcohol advertising.
This is a government that would rather make a criminal of a good parent who lets their son’s mate have a beer at a BBQ than make it harder for booze barons to hook kids into drinking.