The controversy over young rugby player Zac Guildford is actually a wider New Zealand problem – normalised binge drinking amongst Gen. Y. As his generation comes through into prominence (in sport, business, politics) we are having delivered onto the wider national scene, the growing symptoms of a whole generation of young New Zealanders exponentially represented in alcoholic abuse stats as a matter of course. There was plenty of warning. When Jenny Shipley’s National government liberalised the drinking age, the parliament was loudly warned. Naively, her view was, “We can trust young people to drink responsibly.” As one of her parliamentary candidates myself at that time, my public response, was “If we can’t trust adults to drink responsibly, why teenagers?” Did not make me popular.
There was much public debate about younger and younger people abusing alcohol if the age was dropped to 18. Yup, now it’s 12-18.
Our parliament completely dropped the ball on alcohol reform this term, diluting down and ignoring much of the advice proffered. And so we will enjoy more car wrecks like Zac Guildford in our public life, until we finally wake up (like America to gun proliferation and death in their nation) and finally recognise we need quite radical reform to address this expensive carnage and misery in New Zealand.
“Guildford accepted he had a drinking problem but wanted to continue his rugby career in New Zealand, [his girlfriend] said. Since withdrawing from the Crusaders last week, Guildford, who is expected to attend a New Zealand Rugby Union misconduct hearing this week following an alcohol-related incident at a Christchurch party, has stayed with Spratt at her Pukekohe home.”