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Drink-driving, Blood-alcohol Limit—Support for Reduction

Thursday 9 December 2010 Hansard source (external site)

Hughes4. Hon DARREN HUGHES (Labour) Link to this
to the Minister of Transport

Has he received any feedback or information in support of lowering the adult blood-alcohol concentration to 0.05 that has given him any doubt or cause for reflection this year about his decision to retain the level at 0.08?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Transport) Link to this

I have received feedback on this issue, as I have received feedback on a number of transport issues that I have dealt with this year. I always reflect carefully on the feedback that I receive, and I am comfortable with the decision that I have made. I note that I am yet to reflect for as long as the previous Labour Government did. It left office after 9 years, having stated in 2001 that it needed more information in order to make a decision on this issue, then spent the next 8 years presumably reflecting on the need for information.

HughesHon Darren Hughes Link to this

How can New Zealand be at the front of the war on drink-driving, when the UK Government is considering the North report to drop the limit there to 0.05 and in Australia a debate has begun about lowering the limit to 0.02, which means that New Zealand could end up having a legal drink-drive limit four times that of, say, a city like Melbourne?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

I know that the UK Government is considering that report at the moment. Of course, it currently has a lower road toll than either New Zealand or Australia with the 0.08 limit. I note that it is considering not putting down the limit, in favour of more research into the change. I also note that the Quebec Government in Canada has recently rejected a decision to lower the drink-drive limit from 0.08 to 0.05 in favour of more education and more tests at the current level.

HughesHon Darren Hughes Link to this

Which adult limit has the most community support, as demonstrated by public opinion polls and submissions: the current limit of 0.08 that he is leaving in place, or the 0.05 limit that has been proposed by Labour?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

I note that the Labour Party is, of course, a lion in Opposition on this stuff. I think the member should reflect on whether, if he ever gets the chance to be in Government again, Labour will actually get around to changing the limit. I think the important thing to note is that statistics show that 72 percent of all alcohol-related deaths on our roads are caused by drivers who either have a prior drink-driving conviction or are more than 50 percent over the current legal adult limit. I think it could be said the member may be promoting a change that does not have a significant impact, in the way that tackling recidivist and high-level drink-drivers can.

HughesHon Darren Hughes Link to this

Has Bob McMillan of Team McMillan BMW talked to him regarding his concerns about the current 0.08 blood-alcohol limit, given that Mr McMillan took out this advertisement in the New Zealand Herald and gave $50,000 to the National Party so that he could “mix with our master”; and if even major National Party donors do not agree with his blood-alcohol limit, why does he not accept the consensus that now exists right across this country and lower the adult blood-alcohol limit to 0.05?

JoyceHon STEVEN JOYCE Link to this

I am not sure, but the member seems to be suggesting that donors to the National Party should influence public policy decisions. I think that is a rather outrageous suggestion, and it can only be something that the Labour Party is familiar with, rather than the National Government. I point out that the Government is doing a lot on this issue. The Government is running a nil limit for recidivist drink-drivers and a nil limit for young drivers, introducing alcohol interlocks, and finally collecting the data that the previous Government refused to collect, despite recognising back in 2001 that it needed it.

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