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Liquor Advertising Bill Defeated In Parliament

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 17 NZPA - A bill that would have restricted liquor advertising on television to between 10pm and midnight was defeated by 62 votes to 58 in Parliament tonight.

Under current law it is allowed between 8.30pm and midnight.

The member's bill that sought to change it was drafted by former Progressive Party MP Matt Robson in 2005 and went through select committee scrutiny before it reached its second reading stage tonight.

It was passed on to Labour when Mr Robson lost his seat and became the responsibility of Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns.

Mr Burns opened the second reading debate with an appeal for support.

"This bill would actively reduce the overall exposure of children and people under 18 to liquor advertising and promotion by changing the watershed when adverts can be first screened from 8.30pm to 10pm," he said.

"It confronts what can be done immediately to reduce the harm of alcohol advertising."

Mr Burns' Labour colleagues backed the bill but National members argued against it.

A common worry was that teenagers regularly watched TV after 10pm and could be exposed to even more liquor advertising if it was condensed into just two hours.

National MPs who spoke in the debate accepted that serious problems existed around excessive drinking by young people and acknowledged the bill had been drafted in an attempt to do something about it.

But the general view was that it would be better to wait for the Law Commission to complete its review of all the liquor laws.

"We need to consider the whole problem," said Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

"This won't make a meaningful difference ... I can't see it will do anything other than give MPs a warm feeling about having done something."

National did not like the bill when it was first introduced to Parliament and put in a minority report when it was considered by a select committee in 2006.

Tonight all MPs had conscience votes but National's opposition to the bill had not changed.

Labour suspected a caucus decision had been taken that bound them all to oppose the bill, but National MPs insisted they had made up their own minds about it.

The Greens and the Maori Party supported the bill. United Future opposed it and ACT split its votes.

Mr Burns said after the vote it had been obvious National was following a party line.

"National talks about how it wants to address crime and social problems, it acknowledges that alcohol is the big driver of those issues," he said.

"Yet it failed to allow its own MPs to voice their own views."

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