Dan Sanders and Nick Coplestone are happy to abstain from alcohol for two years if it means there will be fewer young binge drinkers on the streets.
The 18-year-old students, from Spotswood College and Witt respectively, are in favour of the legal age for buying and consuming alcohol being raised to 20. ‘I say raise the drinking age, create a strict justice system and also find ways to stop people turning to the drink,’ Mr Coplestone said.
Proposed changes in the Alcohol Reform Bill include keeping the status quo at 18, lifting the drinking age back to 20 or splitting the age to 18 for on-licence bars and restaurants, and 20 for off-licence bottle stores and supermarkets.
Mr Sanders said drinking alcohol was the norm at weekends in New Zealand.
‘We are raised in a culture where it is normal to drink every Friday and Saturday,’ he said. ‘If you are gathering with friends, it’s expected there will be alcohol. That’s what needs to change.”
However Keep It 18 campaign spokesperson Sean Topham said though New Zealand’s drinking culture was “devastating”, changing the age wasn’t the answer.
“Our drinking culture problems affect people of all ages; simply scapegoating 18- and 19-year-olds will not actually solve the problem,” he said.
“Over 92 per cent of problem and heavy drinkers are over the age of 20 – there is a lot of misinformation out there that wrongly suggests 18- and 19-year-olds are the problem when the statistics clearly reveal otherwise.”
Mr Topham said the Keep It 18 campaign had the support of four political party youth wings, and had 25,000 members.
A vote on the alcohol purchase age will go down to the wire, with the latest push for a move up to 20 again facing defeat. MPs tonight are expected to cast their second conscience vote in as many days, this time on whether to push the drinking age up to 20, create a split age of 18 for on-licence and 20 for off-licence, or keep it at 18 for all. The option with the least support will be eliminated, leaving a run-off vote between the two remaining options.