Australia has a long standing love affair with cannabis. More than half of us have tried it, 10 to 15 per cent smoke it at least once a day and five per cent of us love it so much, we find it hard to do anything else.
Our biggest problem is that we’re passing the habit on. Sixty per cent of young people use it. And they’re starting young; more Australian 12 year olds have tried it than cigarettes.
In other words, dope is getting to kids so quick and none of the people supplying it to them are identifying the considerable risks.
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Yesterday’s mini-budget tells an economic story but it is primarily a political document.
Outwardly designed to position the nation against the turbulence of a troubled world, its real unspoken mission is positioning Labor for the 2013 election.
At its core is Julia Gillard’s fear that carrying even a small deficit into the election that year, which most economists say would be perfectly justified and even prudent, would allow Tony Abbott to say Labor had never delivered a surplus and never would.
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On cue, the league of self-appointed moral guardians is dutifully doing the rounds, making a lot of noise about Schoolies and the imminent decay of Good Society it will precipitate. They make arbitrary claims about what constitutes “fun” and play upon the tired moral panics over young girls, binge drinking and indiscriminate sex.
Why, they ask, must school-leavers celebrate the end of mandatory education by congregating near beaches and getting plastered? And why hasn’t someone – presumably the government – put a stop to all this and offered some more wholesome, healthier alternative for kids to let off steam?
Well, there are plenty of alternatives, none of them popular. Schoolies is a naturally developing phenomenon and nobody is forced to participate. Year after year, thousands of friendship groups independently make the decision to head north, or south as the case may be, and enjoy being away from home, with lots of booze and lots of sex.
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Sure, it’d be really great if the guvmint would buy us all a big yard glass full of beer when we turn 21. I’d like a beer now, come to mention it. Where’s Swanny when you need him?
In all seriousness, the government is not here to fund our lives. We’ve got people called employers to do that. That’s why yesterday’s slashing of the baby bonus from $5,400 to $5,000 is a step in the right direction.
Honestly, when did we get it in our heads that the government should turn up with a cheque at every major milestone in our lives? Having a baby? Have some taxpayer money! Buying your first house? Have some more! It’s middle class welfare gone mad.
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Xenophobia. Pauline Hanson asked for a “please explain” over a decade ago. Here is its latest example: Australia’s indifference to the Brisbane Roar’s absurd mark of 36 consecutive matches in the A-League without defeat.
Oh yes, the excuses have come thick and fast. The record includes 13 draws, the A-League is weak, penalties were needed to win the Grand Final.
It’s as if the Roar - a team which is as majestic as it is consistent - should be embarrassed they now own such a precious jewel in our sporting history.
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Today is national Go Home On Time Day.
In a classic Looney Tunes cartoon of the 1950s, Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would clock on at the same time every day at the sheep meadow. When their shift ended, Ralph would stop trying to abduct Sam’s precious sheep and they would both clock off again. Their work done for the day, Ralph and Sam would exchange pleasant chit chat and trot home.
If this kind of thing seems quaint today, perhaps it is because the boundaries between work and life are increasingly blurred. Many of us don’t only do our jobs, we are our jobs – regardless of what time it is or where we happen to be.
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It’s Wednesday! And you know what that (occasionally) means! It’s caption competition time!
This week’s entrant: a rather amusing face pulled by the PM in Parliament this week. One way or another it was going to be used to illustrate a Punch piece.
And hey, what else is on your mind today?
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This video does not make for happy viewing. It depicts a British Mum, who quite possibly is intoxicated, and her racist rant against just about everyone else in her tram carriage.
The video, taken this weekend, has sparked a nationwide debate about racism and immigration and has reportedly resulted in the woman being arrested. After this year’s London riots, it is hardly the video the English needed the world to see.
London’s Olympic organisers probably won’t be too chuffed either. But mostly, we feel sorry for the kid on her lap. What kind of life can he look forward to?
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That 2012-13 projected Budget surplus of just $1.5 billion is tea money in Australia’s $1.2 trillion economy. If someone in Treasury has a whip-around to feed the parking meters the Budget could end up back in deficit.
Well, not quite, but the existence of the surplus - should it actually come into reality - will be that perilous, and perhaps that transitory.
But the fact its existence is contemplated at all is remarkable in a global economy where many industrialised nations are on the brink of recession and would be delighted with even a manageable budget shortfall.
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Look at the world’s great historic cricket grounds. Look at Lord’s with its UFO of a media centre staring down the graceful pavilion on the opposite side of the field. Look at the SCG, where the Victorian era Members and Ladies Stands cower beneath huge imposing concrete edifices.
Arenas like these are metaphors for the modern cricketing era, in which the ancient game of Test cricket desperately vies for attention with the bold, brash child of Twenty20.
When T20 first hit the cricket landscape, the big issue was scheduling. Just how to squeeze in all those extra matches? The issue is no longer about programming but people. What kind of batsmen will form the spine of future Test batting line-ups? Which bowlers have a strong enough spine to withstand three forms of the game?
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