In these frazzled and time-poor times it is difficult to juggle the competing demands of feeding the children and getting them delivered punctually to school or childcare, while also meeting our own need for sustenance and employment.
To this end it is worth thinking about whether schools and childcare centres could be co-located at McDonalds drive-throughs. The children could be removed from the car - if they’re small enough you could pass them straight through the window – and a helpful McDonalds employee could then hand you a coffee and a McMuffin and give the kiddies some nuggets (or whatever) before taking them to class. You wouldn’t even need to leave your vehicle, and everyone would start the day with a hearty meal.
Clearly, this idea isn’t even remotely worth thinking about, but it is worth throwing it out there in a juvenile fashion to upset the nutrition freaks and child protection obsessives who want their cotton-wooled, risk-averse, no-fun agenda enshrined in the nation’s statutes.
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Jam the brakes on the knee-jerk reaction. Call an early bedtime for the Nanny State’s nannies. And for pity’s sake tell Big Brother to take a step back and realise that the little brothers and sisters have grown up and deserve a scintilla of freedom.
There is a solution to the societal problem of “alcohol-fuelled violence”. Actually, there are almost certainly a great many solutions, but one of them is NOT to curtail the rights of publicans, late-night revellers and society in general by stomping on everyone’s heads with bans, restrictions and the continued erosion of adults’ rights to enjoy the freedom to make some decisions of how to conduct their own lives.
But don’t despair, oh government masters of ours. Giving people a little room to enjoy the freedom of being a grown-up doesn’t have to be a complete killjoy for you. You can embrace that concept while still taking steps to solve the pub violence issue and - as a added bonus - do so by doing one of the things that governments love to do most… categorise people!
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Every time a primary school bans cartwheels or a sporting body declares there’s no winners and no losers or report cards switch from A-F to a range between “Genius” and “almost genius” we all throw our hands up in the air and yell “back in my day!”
The whole community immediately embarks on a “nanny state” binge, about how we spent our childhoods swinging from rusty monkey-bars, not wearing seat belts, playing British Bulldog and drinking red cordial and “I turned out fine”.
The flutter of petitions and pinging of radio station switchboards is so deafening we never get to hear the parent who says: “well, actually, I don’t want my child swooshing down a slippery dip that’s not cushioned by six-inches of recycled organic plantation rubber.”
The news that a municipal council in Melbourne has banned local cricketers from playing the popular, fast-paced Twenty20 in more than 40 parks raises questions about the increasingly litigious and risk-averse culture in which we live today.
According to reports, the Boroondara Council introduced the ban to minimize the risk of injury and property damage. Apparently one ball had shattered a car window.
It is also a reminder of one of the most well known judgments in the English common law.
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Here’s something to ponder – how many Smarties would you have to eat to become morbidly obese? 1000? Maybe half a million? Or is the consumption of Smarties merely a deadly entrée to a grotesque world of other fattening treats, where we start nibbling away at a small handful of the tiny chocolate sweets and pretty soon are subsisting on a diet of Chiko rolls, McHappy Meals and deep-fried Mars bars?
In the grand scheme of culinary evil I always thought the innocuous Smartie was the least of our concerns. Apparently not, according to the no-fun folks at the Obesity Policy Coalition, who have launched an action against the Smartie-peddlers at Nestle – cue angry boos from the crowd – over an apparently sinister online colouring-in competition which gives kiddies aged three to 10 a chance to win one of 500 Smiggles stationery packs.
The Obesity Policy Coalition complained to the Advertising Standards Board arguing that the Nestle Smarties website breaches the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative, introduced in March of this year, to protect the tiny tots from wicked corporate ploys to stuff them full of junk food.
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Guillaume Brahimi makes the World’s Best Mashed Potato in his posh restaurant, Guillaume at Bennelong, at the Sydney Opera House. It costs $14. I could go there for dinner and happily eat nothing but the Paris mash.
Why’s it so good? Well, you try tossing an entire packet of butter in with four potatoes next time you’re making mash to serve with snags. You’ll win Masterchef in no time too.
Quay at Sydney’s Circular Quay is regarded as one of the world’s best restaurants (ranked No. 26). Yes, chef Peter Gilmore is clever, but I reckon brushing almost everything with butter before it leaves the kitchen is part of that genius. You show me a delicious meal and I’ll show you a restaurant with a big block of churned milk.
They say quitting smoking is hard, but I’ve learnt the real truth. It’s not just the quitting that’s difficult (although it is), starting up again is bloody hard too.
I’m not just doing this for attention; this is not a cry for help nor is it part of any quarter-life - well, a little closer to third-life - crisis. Truth be told I always enjoyed smoking and I never wanted to give it up in the first place.
I started engaging in smoking when I was sixteen. I say “engaging” because I was really pretending to inhale smoke whilst holding it in my mouth before blowing it out like a clandestine burp.
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In sobering news just to hand, the anti-alcohol lobby has descended on Canberra this chilly morning. They bring an abstemious message: Every drink is doing you damage. According to the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, there is no safe amount of boozing – one drink can increase your risk of cancer.
The NAAA (say it out loud, you’ll get the gist) wants to price alcohol out of the reach of ordinary mortals, ensuring carrot juice with wheatgerm shots becomes the drink of choice of middle Australia. They want restrictions and warnings on alcohol packaging similar to those on tobacco. This is a message that needs to be clinically and soberly assessed and challenged.
This is not a Nanny State rant, more an attempt by us to set the record shtraight. Alcohol is not pure evil.
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In the gruesome final scene of Martin Scorcese’s remake of Cape Fear, the sadistic murderer Max Cady has been bashed with a plank, burned with lighter fluid, thrown off the side of a houseboat and is finally drowning in a river. As he sinks into the water he starts speaking in tongues, struggling to keep his mouth above the waterline as he shouts random free-form gibberish before finally drowning.
I was reminded of this scene while listening to a woman from a cigarette company on the radio this week as she put forward the tobacco industry’s arguments, if you can call them that, against plain packaging.
Despite having a long-standing fondness for the gaspers, and a firm belief that adults should be free to do whatever they like, I don’t ever think I have heard such nonsense in my life. This industry, which in essence is in the death business, is itself in its death throes. As it sinks further into the abyss it is thrashing about spouting nonsense in defence of its right to sell demonstrably deadly products.
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In her recent contribution to the Punch, Tanja Kovac illuminates her readers with a startling observation. That the Institute of Public Affairs is talking about the risks of paternalist policies, colloquially labelled the “nanny state,” for our economic and social freedoms.
Kovac singles out two of my colleagues – Chris Berg and Tim Wilson – for “whipping off articles condemning the nanny state quicker than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
However she curiously omits the contributions to the public debate made by the IPA’s female staff, including Louise Staley and me, who object to state encroachments on our liberties as a matter of principle. So why were two IPA blokes singled out for special attention?
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ANYONE who has spent any time in NSW would be familiar with the provocative “small-penis” advertisement aimed at combating hoon driving.
The ad, filmed in slow motion with a classical music soundtrack, features a pimply-faced youth, still on his P-plates, who almost loses control of his crappy old Toyota Corolla while trying to do a burn-out.
His mates in the back seat look at each other, raise an eyebrow and smirk, then make a wiggly gesture with their little finger as if to say their driver friend must be so poorly equipped tackle-wise that he has to compensate by being a big man with the car.
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In yet another example of nanny-state politics, South Australia is cracking down on the fags. Cracking down harder, that is. So’s Canberra, and plenty of other places.
Not content with banning them to the point where smokers congregate on city corners like snappily dressed prostitutes (as one punter is rumoured to have observed) now they want to outlaw smoking in all areas of pubs, clubs, cafes, playgrounds, covered taxi stands and bus shelters - and ultimately anywhere outside the home.
Smoking is bad for you - no one doubts that. But the effectiveness of such uber-regulation is being questioned, and freethinkers Australia-wide are wondering - where will it stop? There’s a divergence of opinions on the measure - here, for the record, are our thoughts…
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It’s customary to denounce government ministers for being ineffective but for something different today I’m going to attack the Health Minister Nicole Roxon for being far too effective.
More so than any other frontbencher in this government Roxon appears to have got her way on pretty much everything and, as a result, life has becoming increasingly more irritating for those of us who choose to treat our bodies like a science experiment.
Early last year, when cigarettes cost a paltry $12 a packet, as opposed to the new price of $286 a packet, I had the pleasure of bumping into Ms Roxon in the gardens outside the House of Representatives chamber at Federal Parliament, where I happened to be stubbing out a cigarette in the ashtray. “You don’t have to put that out because of me,” she joked, although there was a vaguely maniacal glint in her eye, as if she was going to finish the sentence by saying: “Yet.”
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Memo Mark Webber: Go back to the Motherland.
We don’t want your insensitive, ignorant and thoughtless comments here.
Webber tipped the bucket on his homeland after fellow F1 legend Lewis Hamilton was charged with doing burnouts leaving the Albert Park track.
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If the legislation for the Orwellian-sounding Australian National Preventive Health Agency passes, then expect an avalanche of make-work exercises by the Agency all for the cause of making us healthier.
Armed with a budget of $133 million of your money over four years, the agency would get to work advising commonwealth and state health ministers about health issues surrounding alcohol and tobacco consumption and obesity.
It will look to create new policies about interventions in settings such as schools, workplaces and communities.
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This week parliament will debate a bill to establish a national Preventive Health Agency, reminding of that classic Mark Twain observation: nobody is safe while the legislature is in session.
On The Punch Federal health minister Nicola Roxon insisted that she was no nanny statist, and that the purpose of the Agency was about saving lives and reducing health costs.
Most modern governments understand the follies of outright bans, such as the failed US Prohibition movement from 1919 to 1933. However, the Agency plans what it sees as the next best thing.
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Next week Parliament is set to consider legislation that is another first from the Rudd Government – Australia’s first agency dedicated to Preventative Health.
Currently the media abounds with stories about our obesity epidemic, rising rates of chronic disease and problems with alcohol and tobacco. This Agency will help us do something about those problems.
As much as some media outlets find the labels irresistible, this isn’t about creating a nanny state, or nagging people into being ‘good’. This Agency will be staffed with experts who will work hard to find the best possible ways to help us be healthier – and reduce our health bill as a result.
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YOU know what I love about the Grand Canyon, other than that it is one awesome kick-arse hole in the ground?
It’s got no fences. You are free to fall into it if you feel so inclined. Sure, there’s the odd sign telling you that straying too close to the edge could bring a premature and permanent end to your holiday, but that’s the extent of the bureaucratic concern.
If the Grand Canyon was in Australia, it would have a fence around it.
Too dangerous, the nannas who govern us would cry, to let people just explore it in a manner of their choosing.
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