Greens face binge drinking criticism

Gareth Hughes
Gareth Hughes
The Green Party is under fire for supporting binge drinking after challenging Dunedin supporters to beat MP Gareth Hughes at a game of ''beer pong''.

However, Mr Hughes said the challenge was an attempt at humour by a Dunedin Green Party member and there was never any intention to play ''beer pong'' at the event - which he was attending in North Dunedin tonight.

''I wasn't actually aware that was on the Facebook invite,'' Mr Hughes said.

The Green Party members who organised the invite had since voluntarily removed the reference to beer pong.

Mr Hughes' comments come after National Addiction Centre director Prof Doug Sellman said it was ''irresponsible'' to have politicians encouraging drinking games.

''Essentially ... there is an underlying message that binge drinking is a good thing and that the Green Party supports binge drinking.''

Prof Sellman was also critical of Prime Minister John Key, who downed several cups of beer after accepting a challenge to play beer pong at the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February.

''It's the same thing, and to have the prime minister [doing it] is even worse.

''It's a reflection of our normalised heavy drinking culture,'' he said.

Politicians should instead be focusing on ''reducing the harm'' from alcohol through law reform.

The Facebook invitation for the event tonight said Mr Hughes was embracing ''classic Dunedin antics''.

''Bring along beer or wine and chat about some of the Green Party's student policy. Bonus points if you can beat him at beer pong,'' it said.

Beer pong is a drinking game where players try throwing a ping pong ball across a table into the opponent's cup of beer.

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