Thursday, August 30, 2012

Same Sex Marriage and the age of alcohol

Just when you start to lose hope in Representative Democracy and write the lot of them off as a bunch of out-of-touch buzzword-infested den of compromised sluts, along comes a couple of old-fashioned conscience bills to clear the air. For once, you actually hear what MPs think on things, beyond the fortessed paddocks of usual party politics. Not bad, considering neither bill would have impacted on me in the slightest way.

The first reading vote for Same Sex Marriage was a curious beast indeed. Reluctant plaudits must be given to John Banks. He might have had more strings attached to him than a Thunderbirds puppet, but he did better in the liberal stakes than the appalling Act munsters who were the only party to vote against the NZSL Bill in the last parliament. I witnessed that news broadcast at Wellington's Deaf Club, and the hands flew blue in disgust.

As others have also noted, I tip my hat at the eloquent and reasonable explanation National MP Paul Hutchison gave in support of the bill. I hope in future to draw on that holistic pragmatism on other matters. Labour MP David Clark, who previously seemed to come from the same Steve Maharey batch of clones as Ian Lees-Galloway, demonstrated that faith and reason are not mutually exclusive concepts, even if the God delusion spins your dial.

I've only skipped through a few of the speeches on the Alcohol Reform vote on the purchase age for alcohol so far. Once I see the tally of who voted where, I might might check out more of the whys. But I'm happy that at least NZers can be treated as adults at 18 years old, across the board. All we have to do now is train them for it as best we can.

The speech that has stuck out the most so far has been Grant Robertson's, where he acknowledged under Parliamentary privilege his underage escapades when the purchase age was 20.

Robertson's honesty resonated for me. As someone who has been drinking alcohol for as long as I can remember (the first one I do remember was when I was given a beer on Xmas Day when I was five and ran away to home. Story for another day, but they supposedly had the cops out looking for me and everything).

The purchase age for alcohol was 20 almost up until I was 20. Even so, I was a casual drinker at the age of nine, a regular drinker at 15, and a regular nightclubber at 17. All of this occurred when the age limit was 20.

A few less nonsensical unenforceable laws would be good, a few more rational and realistic approaches would be better. Being honest is a start.