WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan
Western Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has said that he will not support moves to raise the legal drinking age to 21. “We’ve got a whole range of things for 18-year-olds, so they can fight for our country, they can vote for the government of the day, and all of a sudden we’re going to turn around and say ‘but they can’t drink’.” Commissioner O’Callaghan told Fairfax radio. The comments came after media personality Ita Buttrose suggested a trial of raising the legal drinking age was worth considering.
Ms Buttrose said that she had become alarmed at the number of teenagers who were ending up in hospital as a result of alcohol abuse.
Commissioner O’Callaghan stated that the drinking age was not the issue and that it was the ways in which young people were conditioned into the culture of drinking that needed to be addressed.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch however has thrown his own support behind Ms Buttrose’s comments saying that it could add an edge to the debate about the appropriate use of alcohol.”
Police statistics indicate that more than 22% of all hospitalisations of people between 15 – 24 years old are related to alcohol.
With numbers like these it is easy to see why the Commissioner would be hesitant to entertain an idea such as raising the legal age.
To do so would place additional burdens on police resources as there are already a significant number of underage drinkers abusing alcohol already.
To increase this number by increasing the age limit would simply result in more underage drinkers and the root causes of the problem would still be there.