Kevin Rudd’s binge drinking obsession

I thought the write up on Crikey summed up the issue perfectly:

“Bernard Keane writes:

Booze. Gambling. P-rn. It’s everywhere, at epidemic levels, apparently, but luckily our politicians are on the case, ready to shake their heads in dismay and demand tougher regulation of stuff that’s nobody else’s business.

Even under the crusty conservatives of the Coalition, it’s hard to recall a moral panic being whipped up as fervently as Kevin Rudd, Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon are managing at the moment.

Rudd is claiming binge drinking is a “worsening epidemic” that is “getting out of hand” and needs to be urgently addressed. Steve Fielding, best known for using his PC in Parliament House to Google for p-rn, also thinks it’s a “huge” and “growing” problem, and has got up a Senate committee to consider his private member’s bill to restrict alcohol advertising.

But as Richard Farmer pointed out yesterday, there’s no evidence for any of this. Indeed, in historical terms the early twenty-first century is probably one of the most sober periods in western history in the last five hundred years. But you won’t hear any of that in the mainstream media’s reporting – inevitably replete with footage of inebriated teenagers – of Rudd’s dire warnings.

With a similar lack of interest in evidence, Minister for Zeroes and Ones Stephen Conroy has been busy trying to get Labor’s plan to regulate the internet up and running via ISP-level filtering to block child p-rn and “violent websites”. Conroy’s plan, which makes the previous Government’s unworkable Netalert program for PC-level filters look benign, should do wonders for Australia’s already quicksilver broadband speeds. But according to the Minister, the only people opposed to it are kiddy fiddlers.

And incoming senator Nick Xenophon isn’t waiting until July to get stuck into gambling (or, as it should be known, taxation for innumerates), pushing for a new set of restrictions on poker machines and gambling venues. Not to be outdone, Steve Fielding wants to impose a tax on them too.

All this is music to the ears of pressure groups and lobbyists who rely on public funding. Leading the charge on binge drinking was Professor Margaret Hamilton from the National Council on Drugs, an anti-drug body established and funded by the Howard Government and currently headed by former Liberal senator John Herron. According to Hamilton, the mere act of having a drink on a Friday evening sends the wrong signal to Australia’s youth. Daryl Smeaton of the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation – of which anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello is a director — also backed Rudd’s binge drinking warning.

These people doubtless do fine work in addressing the impact of alcohol abuse (however defined) or gambling addiction, but are also beneficiaries of the funding that will inevitably flow from Government efforts to be seen to Do Something. They have a vested interest in encouraging state interventionism in their chosen fields.

Then again the media also has an interest in hyping social problems. Drunken teenagers and gambling addicts make for great copy. Everyone loves a moral panic”.

9 thoughts on “Kevin Rudd’s binge drinking obsession

  1. Myriam Robin

    Sounds more like something Howard would do doesn’t it. Damn it, I can feel the dislike towards our new government building already. And I thought I would like this one 🙁

  2. Michael Gormly

    The moral panic escalated today with the release of a shock-horror Roy Morgan poll that suggests alcohol-fuelled violence ‘may be on the increase’ (as reported on the ABC’s AM program). In reality, after months of the media sensationalism about binge-drinking etc, the phone poll says people are more worried about it. There is in fact no hard evidence of an increase. So much for quality current affairs.

    Worse, shock-horror, one-in-five people ‘have been the victim of alcohol-related violence OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS’. Let’s say I know about 100 people. That weakens the ‘one-in-five’ slogan a bit. What tripe.

    Regards, Michael

  3. Dave

    I hate the goverment they are just gonna make things worse if they raise the age we are gonna have people aged between 12-20 on the streets i recon its bad enough now that we have 12-17 year old on the streets could u imajon if the older people have nothing else better to do they would rome the streets and bash people and brake into houses

  4. Tom

    OMG this scares me if they raise the age we will have ppl aged between 12-20 on the streets trashing everything the goverment are idiots u will make ppl get bashed raped and everything id rather the ppl be in the clubs then on the streets at least people are alout safer why do they always blame young ppl for everything the ppl that do it are older then 21 so they will soon find out when they up the age and they will just have more youths on the streets IDIOTS

  5. ROB

    how does increasing the legal age stop binge drinkning. there is a saying the minority always win, well in this case the minority stuff’s it up for the rest of us. just because there are people getting into fights doesn’t mean you should blame everybody. there are more serious drugs on the street that even a 14 yo can get there hands on shouldn’t the time and effort used to stop binge drinking be used to ohhh i don’t no get ice or coke of the streets. you may say it is to hard well im sure stopping kids like me to stop drinking is going to be far harder

  6. Chris

    I reckon they shouldn’t change the laws due to the fact that all teenagers already drink and even if they move the age up people will still somehow get alcohol and they will be alot of rebelions against the government.

  7. Mary

    What they should be doing with these teenagers is if they are under the age of say 17, any illegal things they do whether it be under age drinking, stealing, assault, etc… the police should charge their parents. Im sure if parents started getting fined for everything illegal their child is doing, the parent might show more discipline toward their child which is exactley what they need. These teenagers arent afraid of anyone anymore. not even policemen.
    Im sorry if i offend anyone and i totally understand that there are coutless parents who love and try their hardest to to do everything right for their child, but there is not enough discipline. There are alot of parents who dont care what their child does. A child is the relult of their carer (parent or guardian)
    Life is about making choices and those choices define your life. I wish young people would at least think about consequences before they make a choice but everything seems to be about image these days.

  8. ricky

    is it just me or do other people think that prices rises on premixed drinks will just start making drugs look more affordable to the binge drinkers. or maybe rudd would rather a drugged up australia

  9. Edl

    What does everyone think about the NHMRC’s guidelines stipulating that four standard drinks (three stubbies) is the maximum someone can drink in a single session before reaching an ‘unsafe level’. I reckon the guidelines are in place to stigmatize anyone who drinks more than that, and I dont think anyone is going to take any notice.

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