Prime Minister John Key is refusing to say whether or not he is seeking advice from his chief science adviser Professor Sir Peter Gluckman on alcohol law reform.
Last week Alcohol Action NZ's Professor Doug Sellman accused Mr Key of sounding like a spokesman for the alcohol industry when he dismissed the idea of a minimum-pricing regime for alcohol - among a suite of measures to combat alcohol harm coming before parliament later this month.
Prof Sellman said Mr Key should be getting advice from Sir Peter, not his chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, a former public relations man for local drinks giant DB.
Sir Peter was appointed as the PM's first chief science adviser in 2009, with Mr Key saying it delivered on the goal of "including science at the heart of our decision-making".
Mr Key's staff refused to respond to questions about Prof Sellman's comments, despite repeated requests by NZ Newswire.
That included not saying whether he had sought advice from Sir Peter or to elaborate on why he opposed a minimum pricing regime.
However, Sir Peter, in a report last year on adolescents, did spell out to Mr Key effective policies for reducing alcohol-related problems in young people. They were increased alcohol taxation, regulating availability and drink driving, and marketing restrictions.
The report also spelled out what doesn't work: education programmes in schools, mass media campaigns advocating responsible drinking and warning labels on alcohol.
Mr Key has so far questioned how minimum alcohol pricing would be defined and said it would be difficult to administer.
He also said it would push people to buy lower quality alcohol.
But Prof Sellman said that was just "obfuscation and clever riddles".
Minimum prices would apply to standard drink measurements, and at the bottom end of the market would drive a $5 bottle of wine up to $10, he said.
It would help get rid of ultracheap alcohol, stopping it being used as a loss-leader and people pre-loading."It really is a no-brainer," Prof Sellman said.
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