Christian Democrats leader Reverend Fred Nile is proposing to have the legal drinking age lifted from 18 to 21.
Christian Democrats leader Reverend Fred Nile is proposing to have the legal drinking age lifted from 18 to 21. Lou O'Brien

Pubs could be off limits to under 21s

THE man who could hold the balance of power in the New South Wales upper house wants the legal drinking age raised to 21.

Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile told ABC Radio the state's number one social problem was "not heroin, but alcohol", and said he expected his party's vote to be critical to the Coalition pushing through its power grid privatisation plan.

Reverend Nile did not believe he had a right to obstruct the government's plans, but suggested he would demand a fair hearing on issues he raised.

"I'd like to see some of the proposals I'm putting up seriously considered by the government, such as lifting the drinking age from 18 to 21," Rev Nile said.

Rev Nile rejected suggestions he would demand the government back his religious agenda in exchange for his support.

"I don't usually bargain with the government," he said.

"What proposal I put up, I want the government to support on its merits.

"I'll never vote for something I don't agree with and I never have."

As well as keeping 18-year-olds from pubs, Rev Nile has flagged increased restrictions on abortions and fighting the spread of halal-certified food in Australia as major policies.

He has vowed to vote against any poles-and-wires lease to overseas investors, and only support it if prices would not increase and workers were guaranteed their jobs for five years.

Rev Nile said mum-and-dad Australian investors should be given the option to buy into the electricity network.

"I think that should be the approach that all governments should take, to make it open to the public, so the public actually own the asset," he said.

The final upper house vote counts are still unclear, although it seems likely the CDP will hold two seats.

Coffs Harbour Christian Democrats candidate Ian Sutherland fielded 1801 votes on Saturday or 4.4% of the primary, seeing the party's margin rise by +0.8%.



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