So, why is the government;'s liquor policy so focused on pedophobia and lazy authoritarianism? John Armstrong's column in the Herald this morning provides a few clues:
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.
92% of problem drinkers are over 20. But doing something about that might affect the profits of the booze barons. So instead they focus on shitting on young people, who make a convenient whipping boy for the sins of middle-aged drunks.
What's disturbing is that the government has been advised that this policy will be ineffective. But they're not interested in being effective - they're interested in ensuring they continue to receive donations from the Hospitality Association.
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