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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 1. 1965.

Matured — in the bush

page 2


in the bush

Three recent pieces of news give point to a situation too long permitted in New Zealand. I refer to our licensing laws, a legacy of a Puritan age now thankfully past, but a legacy which effectively denies New Zealand any claim to social maturity.

In Kuwait, prohibition is declared, and within a week 24 people die from drinking eau de cologne. The government talks of changing its mind.

In Melbourne the Victorian Temperance Alliance splits. Progressives, who can no longer accept the argument that 6 o'clock closing is necessarily better for the community than 10 o'clock closing, resign. They recognise, says the Melbourne "Herald," that there is more to be gained in the way of reform by encouraging civilised drinking conditions.

In Dunedin, the impact of licensing law enforcement is reflected in the fines imposed for breaches, which rise from under £500 in 1963 to £3444 in 1964. £1,315 of this is paid by under-age drinkers.

These are only reminders of a situation which apathy has tolerated too long. Conrad Bollinger in "Grog's Own Country" has documented how interaction between prohibition and continuance interests led only to intolerable bar conditions and increased licensing trade profits. At every election the prohibition vote shrinks in relative size.

Politicians remain terrfied of the power of the liquor question at the polls. The trade wields a powerful election fighting fund. The National Party favours the breweries and the local trust system goes to the wall. Organisations which seek to help alcoholics plead for financial assistance. The Prohibition movement spends hundreds of pounds on emotion-clouded advertisements and unnecessary court costs.

The motorcar kills hundreds and maims thousands. Its social utility is unquestioned. Alcohol kills hundreds and maims thousands. Non-drinkers — wowsers — trample on basic personal liberty as they try to impose their views on others—views conclusively proven incapable of being put into effect.

What price social maturity now?—H.B.R.