Alcohol Purchase Age Kept At 18

by Desk Editor on Thursday, August 30, 2012 — 6:09 PM

MPs have voted to keep the legal alcohol purchase age at 18.

MPs debated part two of the Alcohol Reform Bill on Thursday afternoon.

A vote at 5.30pm gave MPs three voting options. One that the age be retained at 18, another that it return to 20 and a third that the age be 18 in bars, but 20 in shops.

MPs voted in the first round with 18 the most popular with 50 votes, but without a clear majority. A split age was the least popular with 33.

This meant a second vote was held between 18 and 20 which received 38 votes.

In the second vote it was announced that MPs voted 69 for 18 and 53 for 20. This would have meant 122 MPs voted when there are only 121. It was later reported that 68 were in favour of age 18.

There was heated debate with most parties split over the issue and at times arguments broke out amongst MPs from the same party.

Labour MP Lianne Dalziel said National only wanted a conscience vote on the age issue and this was a shame as it made it seem like age was the only issue, when other factors such as the availability of liquor and its price were equally important.

Dalziel said she would vote for the split age option, but if this failed she would back 18.

NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke said the split age option made no sense.

The argument that young people behaved better in bars than when they bought liquor at an off-license made no sense, he said.

O’Rourke said he would vote for 20 as that was the age of majority, though personally he would prefer 21 because of the harm alcohol did.

National MP Tau Henare said he had once voted for the age to be retained at 20, but had changed his mind and would be voting for 18.

He said MPs should “lay off’’ young people as the problem was with older people who were binge drinking and causing the problems. MPs expected 18 year olds to act responsibility when they voted and they be allowed to drink responsibility like anyone else.

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