Breaking news in this morning’s Herald as reported by Melissa Davey under the not-at-all emotive headline, “High-risk drinking out of control in NSW”:
A CULTURE of ”pre-loading” on alcohol before going to pubs and clubs is causing alcohol-related crime, violence, hospital admissions, assault and death.
Australia’s largest study into alcohol-related night-time crime has found people are increasingly drinking before they go out to avoid high alcohol prices in venues, prompting experts to call for reform of pricing in liquor shops.
Well, of course. Quite naturally, people increasingly find the price of drinks in pubs prohibitive and many of them are responding by getting on it – in some cases very hard – before heading out. Presumably, then, if booze was cheaper in licensed venues where there is not just security and RSA regulations and the rest but also, crucially, conviviality and sociability, drinkers would be less likely to consume to risky levels of the let’s-go-punch-someone’s-lights-out variety. Right?
Police and public health experts say the drinking culture is out of control and laws must be changed to stop risky drinking.
Increasing the price of alcohol in bottle shops by introducing a levy on packaged drinks would help, said Peter Miller, a researcher at Deakin University and the lead author of the study.
Back in the old hometown, alcohol is cheap and free-flowing and a six-pack can be found at any corner bodega. By the logic of Deakin University’s Peter Miller, Melissa Davey, and the rest of the public health experts quoted approvingly in the article, New York’s streets should be running red and foamy with rivers of beer and blood. They are not, for reasons soft (a far better pub-and-bar culture than Sydney) and hard (cops who are always visibly on the beat and not just trotted out en masse for the occasional “anti-social behaviour” blitz). Yet for all their degrees and “expert” status, Australia’s would-be Cromwells have only very blunt tools in their kits: higher prices, more regulation, less freedom. Which one supposes is the point, really: no one really goes into “public health” thinking it is a good idea to let people make their own decisions, do they?
As an aside, the Prick and reporter Melissa Davey (who tweets at @MelissaLDavey) once had a brief and not-unpleasant exchange on Twitter over the issue of regulating salt content in food, an issue the respective framers of the American and Australian constitutions surely had in mind when they set down their visions for these two great nations.
Davey’s response? Block that Prick!
So much for Fairfax journalists using social media to engage with their remaining readers and perhaps pick up an alternate idea or two.