29 Aug 2014

Shadow alcohol marketing body formed

7:44 pm on 29 August 2014

A group of specialists in alcohol harm say they are so irritated by a ministerial forum set up to consider restrictions on alcohol marketing, they've decided to do the job themselves.

The Government appointed former rugby league coach Graham Lowe to chair the forum in March this year, but the specialists said the forum does not have enough scientific knowledge to do the job properly.

The Ministerium Forum on Alcohol Marketing and Sponsorship is due to report back on 1 October.

The Ministerium Forum on Alcohol Marketing and Sponsorship is due to report back on 1 October. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The group's spokesperson, Professor Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action, said the specialists were being provocative in setting up a shadow group and had been spurred to action by the lack of robust expert opinion on the forum.

Dr Sellman said the forum's report was due on 1 October and would get lost while media attention was focused on post-election coalition deals. He said Mr Lowe would do a fine job as chairperson, but it was a major concern that the country's top alcohol experts were not on the panel.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the group was considering alcohol advertising from legal and business perspectives as well as addiction and the way that advertising rules worked.

Mr Dunne said to have a panel comprising people from just one aspect would have been unrealistic and the criticism insults the forum's intellectual rigour.

"It's a wide-ranging group with a lot of experience. I think really that what Dr Sellman does with his grizzles is insult their integrity and insult their professionalism, and frankly I just think that says far more about him than it does about the issue he's raising."

Mr Dunne said he was confident the report would not be buried.

Mr Lowe, the chairperson of the ministerial forum, said the shadow group of alcohol experts should not be disappointed with the forum's recommendations. He said the panel had nearly completed its work, and he believed it had done a good job.

"I think this other body that's been set up will not be disappointed in the way that we've looked at the submissions and come up with the recommendations that we may or may not put forward. If they've got the time to be able to do it, good on them. They're entitled to do it, and good on them."

Mr Lowe said the impact that alcohol had on New Zealanders was shameful and most people were sheltered from the harm done.

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