• Max Bradford

New Zealanders are mature enough to cope with the liberalisation of liquor laws recommended in a report released by the Cabinet today, Cabinet Minister Max Bradford says.

"I welcome the liberalisation of liquor laws. In particular I am pleased that Sunday and supermarket sales are included, just as I argued in my Private Members Bill two years ago," Mr Bradford said.

"I think the community has come a long way in the last few years. The beer swills of the 1960s and 1970s have been replaced by more refined drinking habits. Cafe culture has taken the place of the booze barn."

Statistics proved that liberalisation of liquor laws did not lead to increased consumption.

"In fact, quite the opposite. Statistics show that alcohol consumption per capita has fallen with the liberalisation of liquor laws," Mr Bradford said.

Further liberalisation was consistent with the increasing maturity of New Zealanders, including young New Zealanders, Mr Bradford said.

"However, I will be seeking the views of my Rotorua electorate, through a survey, on the question of lowering the minimum drinking in licensed premises to 18 years."

Mr Bradford said a reduction in the minimum drinking age would need to be accompanied by the introduction of bullet-proof age identification such as drivers licences with photographs.

"I hope Parliament will grasp this chance to introduce better, more consistent liquor laws for New Zealand."