New Zealand reconsiders laws making booze sometimes cheaper than milk

on 19/12/10 at 1:34 pm


Reporting from Nelson, New Zealand (BN Editor: Nelson New Zealand just happens to be the home of the awesome Nelson hops.)

The brightly colored poster for the annual fundraiser at an elementary school in this quaint town tucked into Tasman Bay advertised face painting, a bouncy castle — and a fully licensed bar.

Principal Don McLean said the gala has offered drinks for years without problems.

“There’s always that challenge of where is it appropriate to have alcohol and where is it not,” McLean said. “You could argue that at a primary school festival maybe it’s not.”

In a country where more than two decades of business deregulation has left booze sometimes cheaper than bread or milk, alcohol has moved to the center of New Zealand’s public debate, with almost daily media and police focus on its effect on public safety.

Discussion has only increased as Parliament has examined a bill that proposes, among other things, to increase the age for buying alcohol in stores from 18 to 20 (it would remain 18 in bars), cut back on 24-hour sales and hold adults responsible for serving minors.

The intense focus on the dangers of dipsomania may seem strange for a country that doesn’t particularly overindulge. On average, alcohol consumption among New Zealanders was 2.4 gallons per person a year compared with 2.3 gallons among Americans, according to 2007 data, the most recent available statistics for both countries, released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And of 24 countries with comparable data available, it was 15th highest.

Yet the relatively small size of the country and its population, as well as its built-in insularity as an island nation, tend to create a kind of village society where even relatively minor issues can become the talk of the town.

{Full story via LA Times}

Enhanced by Zemanta