Lindsay Mitchell points to the newly released 2009 Social Report for New Zealand. On "potentially hazardous drinking", the Social Report notes that potentially hazardous drinking among 15-24 year olds in 1996/1997 was 40.8%; in 2006/2007, it's 41.1%.
Clearly this is such a horrible rising trend that we have to increase the drinking age to 20, where it was in 1996 before all our teens starting heading out on alcohol-fueled rampages. A recent survey showed three quarters of Kiwis believe lowering the drinking age has had a negative effect, which is clearly revealed in this shocking new data of 0.74% increase in the rate of harmful drinking.
Even worse, this massive and unprecedented increase in the rate of harmful drinking was concentrated among the most socially marginalized and disadvantaged group, European/Other, which saw an increase of 6.9%; by contrast, the Maori and Pacific Peoples groups saw decreases of 2% and 1%, respectively.
Geoff Palmer is right. It's time to increase the drinking age to 25 and brand drinkers with the sign of the A for Alcohol. Statistics don't lie, and these ones more than justify anything the Law Commission might wish to recommend.