19 Jun 2011

Fear ALAC will lose independence in merger

1:00 pm on 19 June 2011

A lobby group says it's worried the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) will lose its independence if the Government merges it with other health agencies.

The Government is considering combining ALAC with the Health Sponsorship Council and part of the Ministry of Health, as part of moves to reduce the number of public sector agencies.

A spokesperson for the lobby group Alcohol Action New Zealand, Doug Sellman, says he's concerned the new health promotion agency will have less of a focus on alcohol and lose its ability to comment independently of government policy.

It's a particularly bad time for that to happen, says Professor Sellman, noting that there are 20 alcohol-related deaths every week in New Zealand.

The Government says alcohol issues will still be a focus for any new agency.

It says the proposal is designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness, but a final decision about the agency's structure and role is still some time away.