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6/5 Pitt Street Dunedin 9016 027 427 5197 Tuesday, 29 May 2012 To the

6/5 Pitt Street

Dunedin 9016

027 427 5197

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

To the Hon Bill English, Mrs Jacqui Dean, Mr Eric Roy and Mr Michael Woodhouse,

I am writing to you in my capacity as the Chair of the Young Nationals Southern Region, as directed by a motion of the Executive Committee Meeting held Wednesday 16 May:

THAT the Chair be directed to write to all Southern Members of Parliament to express the Young Nationals Southern Region’s support for the Keep It 18 campaign, and to urge those Members to commit to maintaining the current purchase age for alcohol at 18 years of age.

The Southern Young Nats remain committed to supporting the Keep It 18 Campaign. We would ask that you show your support for our members and their contribution to the Party by also committing to maintaining the current purchase age for alcohol at 18 years of age.

By now you will be aware of the general arguments both for and against making changes to the purchase age. Instead of rehashing those arguments, I would like to make a plea to your sense of fairness and the obligations we all have to support our younger members.

Our young members do so much for the Party. Whether it is standing in the rain at 6:30 on a Monday morning waving hoardings to hostile motorists, or recruiting the next generation of life-long members and donors, they are the future of the Party. They offer so much, and often ask for so very little in return, especially in terms of policy concessions. It is unfair that we are willing to turn to these young adults, a good proportion of whom will be affected by the proposed changes, and say “thanks for your help, but you’re just not quite old enough to know what’s best for you”.

The Southern Young Nats have already made a conscious and concerted effort to turn the focus of our events away from alcohol, and towards entertainment, and building networks and social connections. We already have several members who are under the purchase age so we try to put as few barriers to participation in place as possible. Ensuring our events are not focused around alcohol consumption is one way in which we encourage their involvement. We already demonstrate the responsibility and maturity required to make informed personal decisions around

alcohol To penalise our members for actions attributable to a wi der social problem is

alcohol To penalise our members for actions attributable to a wider social problem is unfair.

Excessive alcohol consumption is engrained in our society. Binge drinking amongst youth is a symptom, not a cause, of our problem drinking culture. For every 18 - 20 year old who makes the front page of the Otago Daily Times, there are many more well over the age of 20 whose drinking habits would put any young adult to shame. Changing the purchase age will do nothing to address the real problem of our attitude towards alcohol. The Hon David Carter put it well in 2005 when he said:

Raising the age is not the answer. As a nation we must realise that we have a problem and start to address it. It is around a cultural change and it is around education…there is no silver bullet for the problem faced by New Zealand. But to raise the drinking age will not be a solution. The solution starts in the near future with all the Christmas parties and barbecues we will have over the summer, when we as adults should drink responsibly, particularly in front of our own children. This is where this culture starts and too many times at functions we see older people themselves giving a very bad example to young people in the use of alcohol.

Further to the above, increasing the purchase age will impact directly on the Party. By raising the purchase age, the Party will no doubt lose younger members, and younger voters. Recruiting young members will become harder when confronted by the proposition that our Party is the one which singles out young people. We have already lifted the driving age and now we are preparing to add a purchase age increase to our repertoire. Young people will likely throw these reasons, along with our offers of membership, back in our faces. While that might not be the right thing for them to do, it is reality. Already several of our current members are seriously reconsidering their place within the Party.

Our young people believe in the principles of equal citizenship and opportunity, of individual freedom and choice, of personal responsibility and reward for achievement, of limited government, and of strong families and caring communities. This legislative intervention appears to us to go against many of those values which we and the Party hold dear.

We urge you to uphold these principles and Keep It 18.


James Rawiri Meager Chair Young Nationals Southern Region