For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 20 Oct 2013.
One of the strategies currently being contemplated in NSW to reduce alcohol-related harm, especially in relation to road deaths and adolescent brain development, is to pass legislation to increase the legal drinking age to 21 years.
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that Australian support for raising the legal drinking age to 21 rose from 40.7 per cent in 2004 to 50.2 per cent in 2010.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has ruled out any increase to the drinking age, and the Australian Hotels Association’s John Green says it is wrong for a society to say you can vote and drive a car at 18 but you can’t drink alcohol.
Prohibitions on alcohol purchase and consumption don’t work for all people all the time. But where should a community draw the line between freedom and coercion on an issue such as alcohol, our most heavily used, widely available and most destructive addictive drug?
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.