Don’t let the wowsers win, take a taxi

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Crate Day: A packed Village Green earlier this month

The soppy ’90s band Wet Wet Wet clearly didn’t live in Queenstown.

They sang Love Is All Around but in this place I reckon Booze Is All Around.

Wine samples from a VW van parked in Beach Street. A floating bar moored in Queens-town Bay. That’s not to mention the bars, clubs and restaurants.

It’s everywhere. It’s even in the newspapers.

In the last few weeks booze – and the sale of it – has hit the headlines.

First there was Crate Day.

Hundreds of people packing the Village Green arguably showing more nationalistic fervour than many do on Waitangi Day.

You’ve gotta love the video of a female copper playing cricket – that’s my kind of policing.

That struck trouble, of course, when they didn’t pick up their mess. Now there’s talk of banning public drinking altogether in the town.

The second boozy oddity was the case of the bottle shop which had to lift its alcohol sales or it faced losing its licence.

Betty’s came a cropper because, under the law, 85 per cent of its annual revenue has to come from booze.

It just sells too many non-booze items, like tobacco.

The last sweet little mystery swirled around the Gibbston concert – usually attended by thousands of people, with minimal incidents.

It had to go to a hearing about its booze sales policy after it fell foul of national guidelines for how much someone can buy in one transaction.

There was a risk of stockpiling and alcohol-related harm, screamed the liquor authorities – most of whom had never attended the concert.

But, in the end, common sense prevailed. That’s what’s missing in most of these discussions – common sense.

The wowsers and hand-wringers call for bans that will penalise, as mayor Jim Boult puts it, “families having a picnic on the beach and having a quiet glass of wine or a can of beer”.

Amen. People should be able to have fun, within reason.

Those playing up should be moved on before they cause trouble for themselves or others.

And the tills of the bars should keep ringing as long as these things happen. Simple.

At last week’s citizenship ceremony, watching my wife become a Kiwi, I mulled over the national obsession with a tipple.

I imagined a new New Zealander being forced to “do a yardie” – just so they could embrace all aspects of our culture.

That sounds like a joke but it masks a serious point.

We can get all angel-eyed about our scenery, innovation and tourism success but we do have a problem with the drink.

Plenty of people faced up to that in Queenstown’s court on Monday.

Yet another day when the judge spent most of their morn-ing dealing with bozos who’d boozed and driven.

Scotland and Japan have zero alcohol driving limits, should we?

A senior cop told me this week he thinks pissed-up people run the gauntlet because they might think six months isn’t a long time without a licence.

I think that gives them too much credit. The penalties are so slight that people don’t even think about them.

The worst ones don’t think about the kids in the back seat or the people driving carefully in the other lane.

If you want a graphic example of drink-driving’s legacy then read up on Kurow’s Regan Edward Laughton.

In May last year, pissed-up Laughton crashed his car, killing 23-year-old Jarrad Blackler.

The case has divided a town.

How long before someone’s killed around here? Given the dozens of drink-drivers being caught, it’s just a matter of time.

If the temptation to drive home drunk is too high then the government needs to step in.

The punishment should be doubled. And the criminal drink-drive limits lowered.

That’s not hand-wringing – it’s sober sanity in the face of a rotten game of Russian roulette.

Here’s an idea, how about car-less people get subsidised taxis?

Bars need to step up, too. Why does a fizzy drink cost almost as much as a beer?

According to one website, a 20-litre box of postmix cola costs about $125. I bet the profit margin’s pretty good.

I challenge Queenstown’s bars to drop the price of a postmix cola to $2.50. Who’s going to be first?

david@scene.co.nz