MPs lean toward split drinking age

NZ Herald Aug 18, 2010

MPs given a conscience vote on the legal drinking age would probably allow 18-year-olds into bars and pubs but return the off-licence purchase age to 20. The National Party caucus yesterday decided that the vote on raising the drinking or alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20 will be up to individual MPs in a conscience vote. But National would vote as a party on other alcohol reforms in legislation expected to have its first reading late this year. The caucus meeting also decided that any votes on drink-driving laws, including Labour MP Darren Hughes’ private member’s bill to reduce the blood-alcohol limit, would also be along party lines rather than a conscience vote as suggested by Prime Minister John Key last week. Asked how they intended to vote on the alcohol purchase age, many MPs, including Mr Key and Opposition leader Phil Goff, said they were likely to vote for a split age which would keep the purchase age on licensed premises at 18, but raise the purchase age at liquor stores, supermarkets and other off-licence premises to 20.