Friday Rave - a column by Jenny Austin.
Friday Rave - a column by Jenny Austin.

Late-night liquor trade a disaster

ANYONE who truly believes the late-night trading of alcohol is a good thing should spend a week observing the human cost evident in our local and district courts.

Week after week, The Northern Star and other local newspapers report court cases involving serious motor accidents, domestic violence and violent street attacks directly resulting from late-night binge drinking.

Yet, it seems, we as a community are in a state of denial and police are increasingly frustrated by our attitude.

It is as though these events happen to other people, other women, other families, until, of course, it happens to us.

It is likely that the prolific media and Internet coverage of drunken violence has also desensitised us to the issue, hence my challenge to attend court and look at the faces of the victims and perpetrators. Often, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

It’s often reported that late-night trading can’t be curtailed because it is now accepted as a social norm and politicians believe that to do so would prove extremely unpopular in the electorate.

That’s a pathetic and unsubstantiated excuse for doing nothing.

More likely it reflects a reluctance on the part of government to forego the taxes reaped from the liquor industry, an extremely powerful lobby group.

Even as you read this, more hotels and clubs are seeking extensions to their trading hours and planning extensions to their premises to promote more late-night drinking and more sales.

They will continue to deny any responsibility for the serious effects of binge drinking and point to the employment they provide, as well as the dollars donated to charity.

It is a similar approach to that of the tobacco industry, which would still be promoting its products in the media and on sporting fields now if the government of the day hadn’t been swayed by medical and community opinion.

Politicians alone will never have the gumption to take serious action on binge drinking, no matter how much damage it causes in our communities.

So it is up to us to let them know we’ve had enough by opposing every new application for extended trading, and calling on our leaders to do something about it now.

If we don’t, we have to face up to the fact that we are partly responsible for the continuing tragedies that unfold and the serious effects which make the news for a moment, but usually last for a lifetime.

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