10 of your ideas for dealing with binge drinking
Tougher penalties for alcohol-related offences were the most popular response to a call from Family First Senator Steve Fielding for new ideas on tackling binge drinking in Australia.
But that was from those who agreed it was a problem in the first place. Many were also of the view Australia’s relationship with alcohol is just fine, and there was some mirth at Senator’s shock at a staff member who confessed to drinking 12 “jagerbomb” cocktails the night before playing cricket.
“12… 12… IS THAT ALL HOW SOFT ARE YOU!” was the response of one proud binger.
The responses suggest that draconian punishments for drunken assaults might prove politically popular but hugely divisive in the community.
Many people were furious that Fielding would raise the idea of government having a say on how much people have to drink. One Punch regular, Zeta, said that “just thinking about (Health Minister) Nicola Roxon telling me what to do has made me want to down an entire bottle of Pernod without taking a breath”.
There are some further quotes below, but first here’s a top-10-suggestions list from the responses, combining the most popular suggestions with some of the more unusual.
1. Pre-paid alcohol cards. Drinkers buy them at a newsagent at a maximum value of $100, with all cards registered against a central database. If you drink all your credit in a pub, you can’t get any more booze, because the newsagents are shut.
2. Earlier closing times. Several readers said that if bars were closed an hour before a venue shut, there would be more time for patrons to sober up before spilling on to the streets.
3. Politicians setting a better example. One reader who has been attending Parliamentary functions for nearly 20 years said “the amount of booze on offer is astounding” in political circles. “Focus on what’s in front of you, and then work out how to present alternatives.
4. Incremental punishment for repeat drunks. An ex-police officer suggested that obnoxious drunks could be subjected to a “1, 2, 3 approach” - being locked up and small fine on first offence, followed by a lock-up and larger fine, and finally a lock-up, fine, and barring from particular areas on a third offence.
5. Raise the legal drinking age. Some readers said 21; Simon suggested 24. “Everyone’s an idiot until they are 30,” he said.
6. Make drinking ugly. Imogen, a 20-year-old who doesn’t drink, suggested an ad campaign based on what it does to your appearance, on the basis that much alcohol marketing is currently associated with being sexy.
7. Enforce responsible service. Many readers pointed to the fact that bars will keep serving drinkers no matter how much they have consumed.
8. Recharge the booze industry for the cost. Mark from the Gold Coast suggested setting up a central alcohol retailer organisation that would be billed for all alcohol-related incidents. “I don’t know if this will stop alcohol-fuelled violence but at least it would pay for it.”
9. Mega-penalties. Harsher punishment for drunken violence was a recurring theme. The most extreme example was from David, who said: “If you bruise someone due to alcohol-fuelled violence you currently get a slap on the wrist from the courts and a pat on the back from your mates. How about 3 years in jail and a $100,000 fine as a start?”
10. Ask why people get plastered in the first place. “Maybe a more productive approach would be to consider why a bunch of 20-something year old guys from the outer suburbs feel the need to get loaded on booze, cruise into the CBD and start trouble,” wrote Patrick Bateman.
Bateman’s response was among many who made compelling arguments for looking at what might be driving people to drink, rather than punishing them for doing it. Adam Mullet is a former Perth resident who lives in Lithuania. “I used to be somewhat of a drinker in Perth - let’s face it - there is nothing else to do because the government doesn’t sponsor any culture projects that would interest youth under 30. Now when I live in Lithuania, I barely drink - there is enough to do without it.”
Another expat Australian perspective came from Harry, who lives in Munich. He was shocked by the liberal attitude to alcohol when he first arrived in Germany, where there are few bouncers on the doors, kids can buy beer from the age of 16, and it’s cheap. “Yet there seems to be very few problems,” he wrote, and added:
I really think that if the government makes a big deal about alcohol, then so will individuals ... I truly believe that if you give people more responsibility for themselves, then they are more likely to stand up and act responsibly. Treat them like idiots and that’s exactly how they’ll act. It’s actually a reason that I haven’t moved back to Australia. The German government doesn’t (yet) treat me like I’m an irresponsible idiot.
The clear strength of feeling and diversity of opinion on this is clear from the responses. This only makes it more likely that it will continue to be a political issue and that at least from some quarters there will be suggestions that government should be able to tell you what to do with yourself on the weekend.
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@mooks83 sophisticated response. Think the kids parents saw it differently
More class from 9's footy show, lampooning a baby that allegedly looks like Sterlo with a pic swiped from Facebook http://t.co/BGoYP6Pn68
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