Shearer wants fern on flag

NZ Herald 18 Dec 2011
New Labour leader David Shearer is a republican who supports a new national flag, and a social liberal on gay issues – though he is less liberal on drug and alcohol issues.

….He said he had no issue with gay marriage or same-sex adoption, and acknowledged that updating adoption laws – which the Government has said is not a priority – was long overdue. He would have to see the detail of any bill to legalise gay marriage or same-sex adoption before voting for them but supported them in principle. But he is less liberal on cannabis. “I don’t think people should go to prison for smoking a joint but I don’t support legalising cannabis.” He said there was merit in the Law Commission’s recommendation for a mandatory cautioning scheme. Under the commission’s proposal, a cannabis smoker would receive three warnings; the first two would include information on treatment, and on legal and health issues. The third caution would require a user to attend an intervention session, and a fourth would result in prosecution. Such a scheme would not legalise cannabis, which would remain a Class C drug.

…On alcohol reform, Mr Shearer supported a split purchase age of 18 in bars and 20 in supermarkets and liquor shops. He said there was some evidence to clamp down on alcohol advertising, but he wanted to research the issue more.