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Friday, August 26

Alcohol lobbyists expose pitfalls of FTAs

Attempts by overseas corporations to scuttle New Zealand efforts to reduce the harm of alcohol should be strongly resisted, Green Party alcohol spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

The Government's alcohol reform package includes restrictions on ready-to-drink products, which target young drinkers. Lobbyists for the alcohol industry are threatening to use New Zealand's free trade agreements against these proposals.

"Overseas liquor companies and their lobbyists in New Zealand will try everything they can to stop proposals that affect the sales of Ready to Drinks (RTD's) and alco-pops," said Ms Kedgley.

"During the select committee stages of the Alcohol Law Reform bill lobbyists for Australian owned liquor companies attempted to use our free trade agreements to stop harm minimisation measures.

"The Government should not capitulate to the threats of the liquor industry to undermine our sovereignty and public health initiatives to reduce the harm of alcohol.

"New Zealand has a serious problem with young people and alcohol.

"The Alcohol Law Reform bill attempts to regulate the marketing, accessibility, price and purchase age of alcohol, and the strength of RTD's as these are targeted at young people.

"Rather than dilute our legislation to suit the interests of the liquor lobby, we should be more careful about the pitfalls of free trade agreements," said Ms Kedgley.

"It is time that our Parliament adopted a register of lobbyists so that the New Zealand public is more aware of the power and influence of those who exert pressure on our MPs such as the liquor lobby.