It’s not hard to spot a trend emerging in how Australia deals with disciplining its citizens.
Once people start acting irresponsibly, their responsibilities are taken from them.
Such is the ultimate course of action for any nation accused of being a ‘Nanny State’. And Australia just keeps adding evidence on why we’ve been given this title.
A recent addition to the embarrassing list of nanny-esque behaviour comes in the form of an alcohol floor-price plan in the Northern Territory.
Because apparently, dangerous and abusive drunks are purely the result of cheap bottles of booze. Not of their own choices.
But NT Attorney-General Natasha Fyles is adamant:
‘Cheap alcohol is made with one purpose, which is to get people intoxicated and cause alcohol-fuelled harm in our community.’
‘Cheap $4–$5 bottles of wine will not be available in the Northern Territory, that is a product that causes so much harm in our community.’
Well, how could you argue with that?
Hmm, let’s see…
Parliament is considering a minimum price of $1.30 per unit of alcohol, which means the average seven-unit bottle of wine can’t go any less than $9.
But this also means you can still get plastered on less than a ‘tenner’. Clearly, the details of this scheme are yet to be refined.
What’s the ‘logic’ behind this alcohol floor price?
Well, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Northern Territory is our biggest-drinking state, which is why the plan starts there. And these heavy drinkers are more likely to end up in hospital from dangerous behaviour.
It’s unclear as to why excessive research had to be conducted to arrive at that last conclusion. Isn’t it just common sense?
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Ah, but of course! We aren’t supposed to have any kind of common sense or self-filtering, are we? That’s the crux of Nanny State politics, after all!
Let’s not forget the evidence Fyles found that Canadian provinces with a floor price had reduced hospitalisations. So if it works for them, there’s no doubt it will work for us, right?
See, this strategy has already been tried and tested in Alice Springs. No less than 10 takeaway liquor outlets agreed to have higher minimum prices on their products. And what was the outcome?
An increase in alcohol-related assaults by 30% in the last 12 months, according to former CLP government treasurer, Ms Lambley.
Not exactly the kind of impressive results we were after.
But why would it be any different? Having to fork out a couple of extra gold coins for a bottle of grog isn’t going to be the end of alcohol abuse.
As Lambley also states:
‘Alcoholics will pay whatever. Grog running in central Australia is prolific, it is widespread and people pay an enormous amount just to obtain alcohol.’
So then, what can we do?
Well, if we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that we can’t rely on people to self-monitor their behaviour. And, judging by these obscene measures to control our bad habits, no one expects us to.
So the only plausible move would be to increase the manning and police-activity around such liquor stores. It should be mandatory, not discretionary. If we can’t discipline ourselves, we need auxiliary officers on hand to do the disciplining for us.
Because you and I don’t know any better, remember?
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Imogen Van Der Meer