Letters to the editor: Double standards on drinking culture

May 24, 2013
The NT has an 'enshrined' drinking culture — but only for some.

At the Australian Hotels Association award night on May 22, Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said the NT's drinking culture was a "core social value". The ABC reported on May 23 that Giles said “‘having a coldie' in a pub should be 'enshrined' as part of Territory life."

Alcohol indeed is a disturbingly central part of life for many Territorians. The NT has the second-highest alcohol consumption rate in the world, and the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in Australia.

Alcohol is a serious public health issue, and should be treated as such. International evidence consistently shows that the most effective policy approach to alcohol-related harm involves taking on the powerful liquor lobby: introducing price controls, limiting take-away opening hours and licensing.

But the NT government has recently taken retrograde steps that will instead punish people who have alcohol addictions, virtually criminalising drinking by allowing police to ban people from drinking for three months at a time.

The new policy, announced on May 10 and reported in GLW issue 966, has been roundly condemned by health and Aboriginal justice experts.

So has the CLP done an about face on how it views alcohol consumption in the NT? Is it a problem, or a fundamental human right?

The answer may lie in the different drinking patterns and places of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Because of complex historical and cultural factors, Aboriginal people in the NT are more likely to drink outside, such as in parks or on the beach than in hotels.

So, while a "coldie in a pub" might be an important part of NT life, according to the CLP, its tough-on-crime, clean-up-the-streets approach to alcohol means Aboriginal people will overwhelmingly be targeted by its harsh new measures.

In case there was doubt about where the CLP stands in the debate about alcohol supply measures, the ABC reported that Giles told the awards night "the government would do its best to support the liquor industry".

Emma Murphy
Darwin, NT 0800

Coalition’s parental scheme better than Labor’s

While the article “Paid parental leave is a feminist issue” in GLW issue 966 provides a good summary of both parental leave schemes, it doesn't seem to take a stance on which one is best. I was surprised that the Coalition introduced the policy that they did, because to me it seems a lot more progressive than Labor's, and it threatens to fund the scheme through taxing the really big end of town, something which you never see the Liberals proposing.

I wasn't surprised when sections within the Coalition and big business started to complain about the scheme. From my point of view, it is a better scheme than Labor's, because it funds it by eating into the profits of big capitalists, the paid period lasts for longer and it offers women wage rates equivalent with their usual earnings, thereby reducing the financial disadvantage they face if they take the time off to care for the child.

I was also surprised to see that it also offers partners the choice to stay at home instead of the woman, and be paid at her rates (up to $75,000). Why shouldn't women be paid at their usual pay rates (within reason) — why should they have to accept minimum wage payments (aka Labor's scheme) for maternity leave if they are earning more? Also what about the legal entitlement to a total of 12 months’ leave (unpaid or combination paid/unpaid) — will the Coalition retain that right?

Susan Austin
West Hobart, TAS 7000

Health of the Earth is in danger

The assault on the fragile ecology of the Earth is unrelenting. In Australia, Koalas are endangered from forest destruction, habitat fragmentation, dogs, cats and cars. Tasmanian Devils are threatened with extinction from disease and loss of habitat.

The Tarkine wilderness is at risk from mining operations. Clear-felling of our treasured native forests goes on, resulting in the loss of more native animal species. Such logging practices are pushing Leadbeater’s possums and other species to the brink of extinction. The Great Barrier Reef is in dire in jeopardy from ports and shipping developments associated to coal and gas.

And in the world at large, we are overusing the Earth’s limited resources. Our oceans are polluted and overfished. Land clearing is creating deserts and droughts. The Amazon and other rainforests are being destroyed, the habitat that the wondrous wildlife need to survive.

Orangutans are in danger of extinction due to logging rapidly destroying their forest and from the pet trade. Poaching and loss of habitat threaten tigers, elephants, lions and rhinos, among other endangered animals. Climate change goes inexorably on. I could keep going on.

The continuous neglect of our amazing world and the overconsumption of its finite resources is the path to greater environmental disasters. The only thing to do is continue to go on striving for a better, saner and sustainable world. And by learning to live simply, so we can all live a decent life.

The choice is really stark and the renewable alternative is urgent and viable. And by our constructive actions, be they small and large, locally and nationally, we can all do something to make a real difference to the health of our precious Earth.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic 3099.

Save the Red Rattler

Save the Rat is a fundraising campaign for The Red Rattler Theatre, an award winning and much-loved independent arts space in Sydney’s inner-west, with a goal to raise loan costs in order to acquire a 40% share of the building it currently occupies, to ensure the venue stays open.

The harsh reality facing The Red Rattler in Marrickville is that without funding and donations, the venue is unlikely to survive long-term and risks permanent closure. The Red Rattler Theatre is the realisation of a collective vision of five queer inner-west artists and activists who wanted to create a legal, warehouse-style venue to showcase alternative Sydney arts, performance and grassroots activism.

Since its establishment, over 500 performances and events have proven the vibrancy of the space and the demand for an affordable, professionally operated venue for the community.

Saving the Rat will help to ensure a continued viable future for the venue, where it can become fully self sufficient and community owned – avoiding risk of suffering the fate faced by other Sydney venues recently.

The affordability, accessibility and inclusiveness of The Red Rattler has a crucial part in supporting local live music, creative expression and entertainment, from transgressive or queer performance art and burlesque, through to experimental sound and screen arts, along with many community organisations and projects. It would be a major loss for Sydneyʼs creative community to see another affordable space that showcases and champions the arts and music close.

Over $30,000 has already been raised, but we need to reach $40,000 by June 14. Donations can be made at here

The fundraising team at The Red Rattler
Marrickville, NSW, 2204

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.