Friday, January 10, 2014

PM Tony Abbott On Australia's Booze And Violence Culture

Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott writes for the Daily Telegraph, in a front page "exclusive" about Sydney's drunken street violence culture, and reveals details of his personal opinions about alcohol and it's role in Australian society that may surprise some:
"...there's a world of difference between having two or three drinks a night and occasionally a bit more on a Saturday night and this new binge culture which sees young people drinking nothing from one week to the next and then, when they drink, not knowing when or how to stop."

So it's not drinking, it's not knowing how to, well, hold your piss (as Australians used to say).

Here's the full piece by PM Abbott:
Like most Australians, I enjoy a drink on social occasions.
However, as a father and as a citizen, I'm appalled by the violent binge drinking culture that now seems so prevalent, especially at "hot spots" in our big cities.
I'm sick of the fact that alcohol-fuelled violence has turned places that should be entertainment precincts into "no-go zones".

Hospital emergency departments should not be overflowing with the victims of substance abuse every Friday and Saturday night. The media should not be full of stories about the latest casualties from our own streets.
We've got two problems. The first problem is the binge drinking culture which has become all too prevalent among youngsters over the last couple of decades. I'm realistic enough to know that young people won't always be perfect and that making mistakes along the way is a normal part of growing up.
I certainly made a few mistakes as a younger man and have got into some embarrassing situations.
However, there's a world of difference between having two or three drinks a night and occasionally a bit more on a Saturday night and this new binge culture which sees young people drinking nothing from one week to the next and then, when they drink, not knowing when or how to stop.

The second problem is the rise of the disturbed individual who goes out looking not for a fight but for a victim.

We are seeing these king-hits, or coward punches as they are now being called. They are random acts of unprovoked, gratuitous violence.

Inevitably the target is an individual quietly getting on with life. This is a vicious, horrible change.

Brutal people, often with a history of violence, are getting it into their heads to pick on a vulnerable individual. It is utterly cowardly. It's brutal, it's gratuitous, it's utterly unprovoked and it should be dealt with very severely by the police and the courts.

It is well known that as a university student I played rugby and boxed. Boxing taught me many things, including the power of a single punch. If there's danger from a single punch in a boxing ring, it is multiplied exponentially when it's delivered to an unsuspecting or unprepared victim on a concrete footpath, or in a crowded pub or club.

Tragically, it's not just one young life that is destroyed but many. In an instant, one person becomes a victim, another a criminal - and the lives of their families are irrevocably damaged.

As Prime Minister I accept that the fundamental responsibility in this area lies with state governments. It's not just Barry O'Farrell's problem, it's an issue that communities are facing in suburbs and regional centres across Australia.

While we all want to see the courts absolutely throw the book at people who perpetrate this kind of gratuitous, unprovoked violence, we have to recognise that courts can act only after a crime. The challenge for officialdom at every level, for the police, for pubs and clubs as well as for parents and young people is to tackle the binge drinking culture and the violent behaviour that is accompanying it.

We also have to identify if drugs like steroids are also contributing to this outbreak of violent behaviour. There is enough anecdotal evidence from police and our emergency rooms that what we are seeing is not fuelled by alcohol alone. Alcohol is consumed along with other drugs such as ice and other amphetamines.

We need to tackle this issue in a comprehensive and considered way. We don't need kneejerk reactions and stunts that give the illusion of action, but don't make any real, lasting difference.

We need community solutions between police, local government, pubs and clubs and residents. Some communities have already demonstrated that progress can be made and many pubs, clubs and alcohol providers have discovered it is better to solve a problem and be part of the solution, than have a solution imposed on them.

We have to approach this in a way that makes our streets safer. That means resisting the idea one single action will change everything; that one group is responsible for this problem or one politician has the answer or is the cause. While this is not an easy area, with much control in the hands of state and local governments, the Commonwealth stands ready to work with the states, parents and communities. to tackle this scourge.

Alcohol has and always will be part of life in our country - and most countries. Our challenge is to get the balance right.
Abbott is giving a free pass to alcohol profiteers, saying alcohol is a part of Australian society, and that's it. Is this really the right message to be sending out to youth? It's OK to drink 20 or more alcholic beverages a week, as long as you learn how to hold your piss?

He is also claiming that alcohol alone might not be responsible for drunken rages, and while that may be true, the proof is not in yet. Violent idiots are getting pissed and attacking innocent people. This was happening long before steroids or amphetamines infiltrated Australian culture.

The rest of the story is here