By Andrew Starke

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services, Health and Wellbeing, Dr Andrew Southcott MP, has slammed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s suggestion that the legal drinking age be raised to 21.

The PM also faced a marked lack of enthusiasm from within his party with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh questioning whether the change would be workable.

Eighteen-year-olds enjoy a raft of privileges including the right to vote, marry and are treated as adults by the justice system.

This implies that any raising of the drinking age would be contrary to Australian societies notion of when a young person becomes an adult.

“Kevin Rudd’s appearance on Q & A proved that he is truly out of touch with young Australians, calling for an increase in the drinking age to 21,” said Southcott.

“The evidence from the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol were commissioned by the Government to advise on responsible alcohol consumption. Yet this advice fails to meet with the Prime Minister’s own views, and as such he’s chosen to disregard it.”

The guidelines advise that for people under 18, not drinking alcohol is the safest option, however, those under 15 are at greatest risk.

Nowhere in there is there a recommendation to increase the legal age for drinking to 21.

“Encouraging moderation is the way to go,” said Southcott. “Young people need to be aware of their own limits and the possible consequences of drinking to excess but by the age of 18 they are responsible enough to make their own choices.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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