Sir Geoffrey has now said to NBR that he sought Treasury advice on the issues in the Berl report on 22 May 2009, “long before the report by the two economists that stimulated your article appeared. Furthermore, at the same time I secured further advice from another independent economist.”But if he only asked for advice on the BERL report in May, why was he making statements based on the report in April? Why use the report if you are not sure of its findings? And why ask for advice if you are sure of the findings?
In a speech to police in Nelson on 24 April, Sir Geoffrey quoted headline figures in the Berl report of $5.296 billion in social costs of alcohol (and drugs), versus the alcohol excise tax take of $795 million, as a basis for his preferred policy option of significantly raising excise taxes to cover the shortfall.
Also the NBR reports Sir Geoffrey as saying,
"It does seem that the case for increasing the price of alcohol to ensure drinkers contribute more to the costs imposed on society is persuasive."