Not the Dunne thing…

Written By: - Date published: 7:07 am, December 13th, 2011 - 46 comments
Categories: alcohol - Tags:

Peter Dunne, holder of the critical asset sales vote, has – according to Alcohol Action NZ spokesperson Professor Doug Sellman – “deliberately suppressed” the biggest and best survey on Kiwi attitudes to drink legislation this country has (not) seen.

82% want strong restrictions on alcohol advertising (half want it banned altogether).  56% want to see the price of cheap booze increased.

And no wonder – research shows that by far the biggest lever on reducing drinking (and in particular problem drinking) is price.  And National refuse to pull that lever.

The second most effective thing?  Reducing advertising.  National are doing nothing there either.

Lianne Dalziel is unimpressed:

“John Key’s approach to alcohol law reform has been driven by a desire not to offend the vast majority of responsible drinkers rather than trying to deal to and minimise the harm alcohol causes in society.”

“That’s why suppression of the Health Sponsorship Council’s research — showing the public are on the side of major reform — is so appalling.

“Quite clearly Kiwis are not in tune with the John Key-Peter Dunne softly, softly, weak-kneed approach. They want decisive action to curb alcohol abuse, but, for reasons best known only to itself, the Government decided to conceal this research at the time when it could have done most good.”

So why was the report shelved?  According to Dunne it was to save $10,000 that it would need to be peer-reviewed.  Quite why it was commissioned if they weren’t willing to pay the final cost is unclear.  Or why they couldn’t have sent it to MPs un-peer-reviewed if cost was such a problem in the $12,500,000,000 health budget.

Dunne’s other excuse was that it just agreed with other things in the public domain.  But there’s never been a survey like this, so it is important extra evidence of Kiwi attitudes.

It’s a poor show.  But then, Ohariu will realise Dunne’s responsibility for the loss of our assets, so we only need put up with the hair for 3 more years.  Just a shame how much damage he’ll let National do in that time.

46 comments on “Not the Dunne thing…”

  1. vto 1

    How does putting the price of alcohol up affect those for whom price is not a factor? Putting the price up only affects the poor. Typical.

    Just like fags.

    • It affects the drinking habits of the young (who are poor) and alcoholics (who buy greatest volume) more than anyone else. Yes it will affect the poor more, but it also reduces the drinking of most across society. Alcohol is far cheaper compared to income than it ever has been in history, so its not too great a surprise that we’re drinking far more as a society…

      Of course changing societal attitudes is the ultimate in fixing drinking problems, but that’s a whole lot harder. And while John Key regularly makes comments about having a few beers and organises photo ops of him drinking (with Prince William etc), he only perpetuates the drinking culture he was telling us during the election that he wants to change. Not that I don’t like the odd drink myself, but just saying: actions speak louder than words John.

      • Puddleglum 1.1.1

        Of course changing societal attitudes is the ultimate in fixing drinking problems, but that’s a whole lot harder.

        There’s nothing hard about changing attitudes. Attitudes follow, they do not lead.

        This needs to be more widely understood. Note that in the 1980s radical structural changes occurred in the economy – over the intervening decades, New Zealanders’ attitudes have conformed to this new reality, as anyone should expect (much as I regret those attitudinal changes).

        Humans are ‘adaptable’ – far too adaptable for their own good, at times. The aim should be to produce structures which ‘socially engineer’ outcomes that are favourable for human beings (as opposed to the 1980s ‘reforms’).

        I should add that collective social engineering is much to be preferred to its alternative; engineering individuals (e.g, through policing, prisons, therapy, pills, etc.). Social engineering is much less coercive and should be proudly promoted by all humane people.

        ‘Collective social engineering’ is also called ‘democracy’ – not that you’d notice, given the former term’s bad press.

      • Rich 1.1.2

        Alcoholics and the poor can deal with more expensive booze in a range of ways other than by cutting drinking:
        – spend less on essentials
        – drink at home or in the street rather than in bars
        – drink cheaper product
        – drink homebrewed or bootlegged product

        Alcohol is far cheaper compared to income than it ever has been in history

        Have a look at the “Gin Craze” of 18th century London. It was fairly cheap then, maybe 1/3000 of annual earnings for enough to get drunk on.

    • Ianupnorth 1.2

      The only really effective way of achieving behavioural change (not only in the poor, but in the rich too) is via price.
       
      You can limit availability of purchase, e.g. put out of view, reduce hours, etc, helps short term, but the change in behaviour is minimal.
       
      You can ‘educate’, ‘scare’, ‘publicise’ as much as you want – just remember the alcohol industry (and food, pharmaceutical and similar industries) have at least 200 times the advertising spend of the whole of the Ministry of Health has, example Coke spend 200 times the amount of the ministry on advertising per annum, and that is just one company.
       
      Only making dangerous things hard to afford is the only way to reduce its usage (NB I like a beer and a wine too, but I am happy for the price to go up if it stops kids being killed)
       

      • Ben 1.2.1

        “The only really effective way of achieving behavioural change (not only in the poor, but in the rich too) is via price.”

        You only mean that in relation to this particular issue, surely?

        To say that the only road to behavioural change is by manipulating prices is to suggest that the effect of economics supersedes the effect of everything else. Economists like to believe that – they like to feel important – but in the real world, that’s not even close to true.

        • Ianupnorth 1.2.1.1

          It works with tobacco, it works with unhealthy food, it works with alcohol.
           
          When petrol prices go up people are more likely to seek alternative measures. What I was getting at is that education and publicity/scare tactics don’t work, prices rises do.

          • Vicky32 1.2.1.1.1

            It works with tobacco, it works with unhealthy food, it works with alcohol.

            I assure you that it doesn’t work with tobacco! That being said, I think it would with alcohol… it’s physically impossible to smoke more than  a certain (small) amount – but it is sadly, perfectly possible to drink enough alcohol to kill oneself or others.
            No one ever went berserk under the effect of a pack of cigarettes and killed their spouse, or crashed a car, or burnt a house down. These things and other bits of ghastliness happen all the time with alcohol. Drinking is socially acceptable, smoking isn’t – a colleague confessed today, that after a Christmas party last week, at which I had explained why I drinking a Mango Lassi and not alcohol (because to quote Suzanne Paul, “once (I) start, I don’t want to stop”) she went home, poured herself into bed and realised that she didn’t even remember getting home. I refrained from smoking through out the party (except for the time I went out on to the wharf!) but almost everyone drank happily. Double standard, what?

  2. tc 2

    Key has alcohol interests and dunne has nat party interests to keep his baubles of power…..end of story.

    Geez labour sure has spawned a bunch of rat bags over the years, dunne, the act party, tamaheri etc……whereas with the Nats they rise to the top.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Right wing disingenuousness reaches new heights of hypocrisy over this issue. One the one hand, we must punish the undeserving poor with food stamps and demeaning micro-management of their social security cheque so they don’t waste it on booze and baccy. On the other hand, when the profits of corporate drug dealers are threatened, we must fanatically die in a ditch to protect the right of the poor to be able to afford to buy large amounts of cheap booze and tobacco.

    Right wing middle class “responsible” drinkers complaining about putting up the price of booze is the ultimate expression of neo-liberal selfishness in my view. heavy drinkers and young binge drinkers are the most price sensitive drinkers of all. All research tells us this. Stopping supermarket sales and higher prices would have a dramatic impact on crime and health statistics. But no. We can’t do that. Because if we did, some booze baron wouldn’t make as much money and some arsehole in Remuera or Fendalton doesn’t want to pay $5 more for their cleanskin sav – and to hell with everyone else.

  4. Tom Gould 4

    It is just plain ‘common sense’ to legislate in favour of the booze barons while lying to the public, isn’t it? After 27 years in the trough, that’s just how he rolls.

  5. If alcohol law was to be reformed by popular opinion what would we end up with?

    How much would the price of alcohol go up?
    How much would the sale of alcohol be restricted?
    What would be the purchase age? The drinking age?

    Isn’t the lower socio-economic demographic over represented in smoking statistics after heavy regulation?

    • rosy 5.1

      Who knows? How about we get all the research out in the open so we can have the conversation that’s sorely needed?

      Btw how much does alcohol affect the violence against children you’re so passionate about preventing? How about we have that conversation included in the mix as well?

      • I agree rosy.

        Alcohol is a major adverse influence in all violence – and quite involved in poverty (along with other drugs).

        Personally it wouldn’t bother me if the price of alcohol was doubled, but I have no idea if the positive effects would outweigh the adverse effects.

        It would reduce consumption, but by how much? And with the target (problem) drinkers would it make make much difference? It’s possible it would add more financial stress to alcohol stress.

        Whatever we try the aim needs to be to change our binge drinking culture, our escapism culture, our blame-something-else culture.

        But we need to maintain some degree of socialisation – if it were possible to ban alcohol altogether would that push us more into our bubble living?

        • mickysavage 5.1.1.1

          Personally it wouldn’t bother me if the price of alcohol was doubled, but I have no idea if the positive effects would outweigh the adverse effects.
           
          Well educate yourself Petey.  Go and talk to Jenny Connor at Otago University and find out from her.  Until you do know something, with the utmost respect, you are not qualified to comment.

          • Pete George 5.1.1.1.1

            I’d like to talk to Jenny about it, and a lot of other people locally. But on the basis of your claim that I’m not qualified to comment that would rule out most blog comments wouldn’t it? Does your blog have a ‘must be qualified to comment’ rule?

            No one knows what would happen if the price of alcohol doubled. There would be predictable consequences and unintended consequences. History has shown what can happen if it is banned altogether, and that didn’t seem to reduce violence.

        • rosy 5.1.1.2

          PG – you clearly see the need for information on alcohol to be available for proper policy and decision-making. So what is your opinion on some relevant information about what NZers think about alcohol being with-held for, it seems, political purposes?

          • Pete George 5.1.1.2.1

            Has it been withheld? For political purposes?

            Peter Dunne says he never tried to deliberately suppress a survey about attitudes towards alcohol.

            “That’s simply a lie. I have covered up nothing because I’m in no position to cover it up,” he says. “I’m not responsible for the report. I don’t have responsibility for the Health Sponsorship Council. I can’t tell them what to do or what not to do.”

            “Why they didn’t produce it publicly on their website, as I had anticipated they would, is something they need to answer not me.”

            While the Health Sponsorship Council declined to be interviewed, a spokesman told 3 News it was not the council’s responsibility to publish the survey.

            http://www.3news.co.nz/Peter-Dunne-responds-to-cover-up-claims/tabid/419/articleID/236274/Default.aspx#ixzz1gM0frWDn

            Who is responsible for releasing the survey results?

            • The Voice of Reason 5.1.1.2.1.1

              Dunne is responsible, Pete. He’s the one who stopped it being released by turning off the funding tap. Muldoon used to do the same sort of shit; play ball or no money for your organisation. What a creep Peter Dunne turns out to be and how very very far away his is from your ideals of openness and transparency. You must be gutted to be so badly let down.

              • Dunne says he expected it to be released anyway. It appears as if it’s been released, Stuff are quoting from it. Someone must be responsible for that.

                • McFlock

                  If he really expected it to be released unedited, unproofed, and unreviewed, then he’s a moron.
                  Otherwise he’s just a liar.

            • rosy 5.1.1.2.1.2

              My guess is the Board reports to the Minister and the Minister approves, or doesn’t approve the report/recommendation. What’s yours?

              • I don’t know who is responsible for it. Tony Ryall? Why isn’t he being asked about it?

                • rosy

                  Maybe because it didn’t get that far because the necessary funding wasn’t there? Which brings me back to the original point…..what’s your opinion about this potentially valuable information being with-held?

                  • I’d prefer as much information as possible was made public.

                    From what I’ve seen of the survey it doesn’t tell us anything much new, but it does add weight to what is already known.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      So why do you think Dunne suppressed it? And what are you going to do about it? It would be a terrific blow for democracy if you, the senior leader of UF in the south, called for his resignation on a point of principle. Though I imagine you’d have to explain to him exactly what principle means, because it’s not a concept that Dunne appears to be familiar with.

                    • rosy

                      I’d prefer as much information as possible was made public.

                      Exactly. Now… as for Peter Dunne, he seems to have a different view.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      From what I’ve seen of the survey it doesn’t tell us anything much new…

                      Really? See, I read it and it told me a hell of a lot that I never knew. For example I was thoroughly surprised to find that most people supported raising the price of alcohol.

                      It appears as if it’s been released…

                      Yes, but after the enquiry was finished rather than it being available before. Timing is everything as they say.

                      BTW, I’m also pretty sure that what you said was word for word what Dunne said when he got caught suppressing the report.

    • Vicky32 5.2

      Isn’t the lower socio-economic demographic over represented in smoking statistics after heavy regulation?

      Are you being a wee bit precious here? Snobbery? I have observed that a lot of anti-smoking hysteria is simply snobbery. “We” drink “nice wines”, the “Lower orders smoke and drink DB”…
       

  6. Tigger 6

    Hmmm, Dunne did mention how much he likes wine at a public meeting…

    Seriously though, this is creepy and disgusting. Dunne, resign.

    • Jackal 6.1

      Approximately 1000 New Zealander’s die each year from alcohol-related causes… Dunnes despicable decision to hide relevant information has contributed to these deaths and he should resign.

  7. Campbell Larsen 7

    The Nats are desperate to maintain alcohols status as the only legal recreational drug in NZ – despite the fact that hands off nothing to see here approach means that people will continue to be needlessly harmed. The hipocracy of the war on drugs being pushed by a party that is knee deep in booze and tied up with links to the barons is astounding. When we grow up and adopt a rational and reasonable approach to these issues? No time soon with these clowns at the helm.

  8. Pete 8

    National will never do anything that might adversely affect the profits of Lion, Dominion Breweries or any other part of the hospitality industry. The only measure of any success in reducing alcohol harm in NZ will be the downward trend of the share prices of these companies.

    • What about Labour? Did they raise the purchase age? Did they restrict supermarket sales? Did they ban alcopops?

      It’s not a single party problem, it’s a wide ranging political and social issue.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        It’s not a single party problem, it’s a wide ranging political and social issue.

        Yes, but it was Dunne who had responsibility to see that this specific report was published in a timely fashion. He chose to withhold the funds.

        That’s his responsibility and you really can’t duck that.

        • Pete George 8.1.1.1

          He’s saying it’s not his responsibility.

          “I’m not responsible for the report. I don’t have responsibility for the Health Sponsorship Council. I can’t tell them what to do or what not to do.”

          “Why they didn’t produce it publicly on their website, as I had anticipated they would, is something they need to answer not me.”

          While the Health Sponsorship Council declined to be interviewed, a spokesman told 3 News it was not the council’s responsibility to publish the survey.

          http://www.3news.co.nz/Peter-Dunne-responds-to-cover-up-claims/tabid/419/articleID/236274/Default.aspx#ixzz1gM0frWDn

          Who is responsible for releasing the survey results?

          • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.1

            As has been repeatedly pointed out to you Dunne withheld the necessary $10k funding to ensure the report was properly published.

            Just banging it up on a website is not the same thing.

            Or do you think the Health Council… having paid to produce this highly significant report, was content just to idly sit on it?

            • McFlock 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Just banging it up on a website is not the same thing.

              lol

              Maybe pete believes that his web-jizz carries the same weight as a large-scale, peer-reviewed piece of research.

      • Ianupnorth 8.1.2

        See 1.2 – no party wants to be seen as nanny state – a label used (incorrectly) against Labour, as they actually wanted to improve health and well-being, not just fix ill health like the Nats.

  9. randal 9

    the big reform is that alcohol will not be sold between the hours of 4am and 7am.
    whipty friggin doo.
    thats really making a difference to the all pervasive climate of violence and loose behaviour in noo zillun.

    • Bored 9.1

      To think he was head of ALAC years back when he lost his “job” as Pres at Canterbury Uni Student Assoc. Back then his modus operandi was to get the clubs to vote for him by promising them funding from the student association fees for club purposes. Remember it well. Seems nothing has changed, he is still for sale. That means that the assets Shonkey wants to sell will be weighed up against the job and benefits to Peter.

  10. Augustus 10

    How anyone can regard Doug Selman as a voice of reason is beyond me. The man is a zealot in the truest sense. A bit like the Sensible Sentencing Trust in that he has one simple solution for a very complex problem.
    It seems that there is broad agreement in these comments about price increases, but I don’t believe that the divide in opinion is political, ie Labour vs National or Left vs Right, beyond the majority position each party has arrived at within itself (not a problem in one-man bands of course). I would be very surprised if there was a 100% majority in Labour for price increases and similarly 100% against them in National, hence alcohol affairs usually being subject to a consience vote in parliament.
    Instead, alcohol and its abuse are cultural and societal phenomenons and need to be approached on this level, bearing in mind that we have descendents of cultures other than protestant presbitereans here. “Price signals” might influence behaviour, but in more than one way. They would cause a rise in home brewing (lower quality alcohol – more health problems), and they would, in my case at least, make me consider to vote for a party campaigning against them (so long as its not National).
    As for advertising, one could think that ALAC has never heard of the old meme that there is no such thing as bad publicity, with its constant ridiculous preaching on TV every night. It just follows the “cater to the biggest idiot” approach politics, too, seems to take every time.

    Having said so, Dunne should have released the report.

  11. ropata 11

    all you naughty kiwis out there

    tobacco, cannabis, and bzp are bad

    booze, hookers, and casinos are fine though

  12. A BERL report on the cost of alcohol-caused harm to our society; http://www.berl.co.nz/874a1.page

    Guess who picks up the tab for it all?

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