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Wrong time to take eye off the ball on alcohol - Labour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Plans by the Government to bury the country's alcohol watchdog within a new "health promotional agency" are at odds with all the advice coming from the coalface, Labour's Health Spokespeople Grant Robertson and Iain Lees-Galloway say.

"Just last week we had ambulance staff setting up triage units in Courtney Place to deal with the increasing numbers of intoxicated people, while front line medical staff around the country say they dread night shifts in emergency departments because of alcohol-fuelled abuse.

"Surely this is the time to keep the focus on mitigating and educating against the harms of alcohol, but today Tony Ryall has decided that ALAC should be disestablished and its role subsumed by a stand-alone agency that also has Ministry of Health responsibilities," Grant Robertson said.

"If the Government is serious about addressing New Zealand's drinking culture, as it has said it is, it's going about it the wrong way. By shutting down an agency whose sole focus was alcohol issues, while saving only a small amount of money is a false economy.

"I'm also concerned at the premature closure of the Mental Health Commission in 2012. Mental health services around New Zealand are closing or are being reduced in response to Government under-funding.

"The Government has not provided a coherent plan for the future of mental health services beyond the current blueprint. There is plenty of work for the Mental Health Commission to do before its scheduled closure, which was planned for 2015," Iain Lees-Galloway said.

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