After enduring a horribly boring election campaign and then the tantrum from the minions of the Evil Overlord because the Australia electorate disobeyed him, there’s now a State election due in Victoria, on November 27th.
Aside from bets being taken and Labor an early favourite at Centrebet to stay in power, there hasn’t been a whole lot in the news. One might, if one were a
febrile communist wizened observer of media and politics, cynically speculate that the ABC has published nothing about Victorian election issues this morning because there was nothing in The Australian for them to copy…
Labor holds a majority in the Lower House, though it will be interesting to see if proportional representation has much influence this time around. In the Federal election the Greens got 11.76% of the primary vote and only won 1 seat. The Nats received 3.73% of primary votes and won 7 seats. The seat the Greens won was that of Adam Bandt in Melbourne.
Victoria had a minority government for a few years, with the indies holding power, after King Kennett was given the boot. One wonders what difference eleven years will have made to voting trends and in particular, how much the Greens showing at Federal level will foreshadow this State election.
In that time media ownership laws changed so that the Evil Empire now owns some 70% of newspapers in the country, as well as magazine and book publishing houses, movie studios and pay tv channels. We’ve seen the propaganda and manipulation from Murdochistan during the Federal election campaign and it seems they’ve already signalled their intentions for the State in such sewer outflow as the OpEd pieces in the Australian.
No, there isn’t a link to it.* Being a fan of sustainability and constructive change, I’m one of those who favours local food, home grown, home made, organic and other consumer decisions to effect my political perspectives. I would like my grandson to have the same or similar opportunities to explore the bush and wander in green spaces as I did as a kid. I would like him to have a community to live in that is supportive and secure rather than driven by hate, fear, anger and controlling machinations of some greedy b4stard magnate. When big business makes a decision like selling GM soy or corn, I refuse to buy their products. In a world where so much legislation is driven by the media/government/business closed loop of lies and propaganda, there is a reduced forum for the community or individuals to find any representation that’s in the interests of the community. Hence, ‘be the change you wish to see’.
In that vein, I boycott News Ltd. No magazines, books, tv, movies, papers, radio or anything else published by those who act as if multi-national monopolies and the profits thereof are more important than the lives of human beings or the planet. They can get stuffed.
So long as the ABC continues to regurgitate Opposition press releases as if they are news, there won’t be too much said in their favour, either.
With the media disappointment rant out of the way, let’s have a look at an issue. So far this morning I haven’t found one in any of the mass media in terms of the election, so I’ll invent one from the headlines.
One of the big stories this morning was the alcohol and violence blitz by police. That’s a “blitz” on drunk and disorderly, not p*ssed coppers, k? The story informs that NSW and Qld were the worst affected over the weekend just gone.
The weekend blitz has prompted several different articles with different perspectives on alcohol and violence. The Salvation Army recently surveyed 600 people and found what they thought was an alarming coincidence of drinking linked to depression. Awareness of the comorbidity of depression and alcoholism is not new, however the publication of the survey is timely. Yes, we are seeing more evidence supporting links between stress levels, depression and alcohol use in Australia.
In contrast, have a look at the Laura Norda approach taken by a business spokesmouth. The Age chooses to headline a comment by a Chamber of Commerce representative as necesitating a zero tolerance approach by government and law inforcement toward drunk and disorderly citizens.
Well, at least we have the context.
Victorian business has slammed the state government’s response to street violence for being slow and too focused on alcohol licensing at the expense of policing.
With the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry set to release its business priorities for November’s state election today, the group also criticised sentencing for serious assaults for not reflecting the seriousness of crimes.
With law and order already a major election issue, VECCI chief executive Wayne Kayler-Thomson put both major parties on notice calling for extra resources for ”zero tolerance” policing and sentencing, citing ”New York-style” policing.
An industry representative speaking on behalf of interested parties is the source of the “slam”. As a citizen of Victoria the spokesmouth is entitled to criticise/analyse the Government. As a representative of a business interest group, Mr Kayler-Thomson is also entitled to speak on behalf of the members of that group. We notice with some approval that the reporter writing this article includes some relevant statistics on violence in the area under question… However, the call for zero-tolerance “New York style” policing is cause for some concern.
This is the same kind of
hysterical bellowing for “suggestion” of legislation that is frequently seen in News Ltd and since News bought part of Fairfax, in Fairfax also. News flash: editors and media owners with a profit agenda are not the sole or even most important motivators of legislation that affects human beings and families.
The industry spokesmouth is not asserted to have any experience whatsoever in policing, jurisprudence, developing policy or legislation, nor in the psychology of substance use or violence. While his observations as a citizen in this State are relevant, the use of his comments as a guide for any legislation, policy or policing, without reference to any expert in any relevant field, is ridiculous. It is what we’ve come to expect from the media in these circumstances however.
In the same edition The Age has another article in the lifestyle section, for some reason, about research recently done by a Professor at the University of Bath into drinking habits among teenagers.
“Getting very drunk with friends often insulates young people from viewing their level of alcohol consumption as a potential problem, deepening bonds of friendship and cementing group membership,” she says.
“Campaigns that aim to change young people’s drinking habits need to take the social importance of drinking into account, as well as the pervasive availability of ‘cheap deals’ on alcohol.”
Well at least that is looking a little deeper than simply the surface symptoms of alcohol consumption and violence. There is no other mention in either article regarding the motivations for drinking or substance use as self-medication. Considering the leading cause of death among Australians 18-25 is suicide, you’d think they’d look a little deeper. Considering the well known links between stress, mental health issues and substance use including alcoholism, one would think the reporting on this issue would include people outside the teenage demographic.
It’s not as if the connection of these issues is unknown. They’re well documented over decades. Alcohol use disorders comorbid with anxiety, depression and drug use disorders, from the 2002 Australian survey of mental health and well-being. Bipolar disorder and comorbid alcoholism. Suicide, depression and alcoholism.
Only a couple of months ago the head of a mental health policy review team resigned.
Professor Mendoza wrote that he had regarded his appointment as chairman of the council ”as the most important public service responsibility of my life” but he now realised that his efforts to improve mental health services and ”end the shameful neglect of … some of the most vulnerable of all Australians” would be better used in other roles.
Professor Mendoza declined to discuss his resignation, but he told The Sunday Age that he was especially concerned about the lack of funding for the rapidly growing number of mentally ill young people, describing the money set aside for services for this group as ”appalling”.
He said the mental health system was destroying families and the government was failing to deal with the crisis. ”Families are left in appalling situations where there is nowhere to turn for help,” Professor Mendoza said.
This is a perfect example of the kinds of issues that would be appropriate to be examining during an election campaign. What is the state of the system and infrastructure that’s supposed to assist those living with mental illness, addiction or domestic violence? What can be done? What history do the parties have in dealing with these issues?
Many voters in Victoria still remember Jeff Kennett selling off much of the property and cutting funding dedicated to mental health. Ted Baillieu’s family real estate agency allegedly profited from the sales of this and school properties. Bracks and Brumby have had more than ten years now to address the crisis in the mental health system, not to mention problems in the broader health system, education, public transport, utilities and housing.
If health professionals, business groups, reporters, users of the system and families all over the country are aware of the connections between violence, drinking and mental health and if alcoholism and violence are currently the subject of police action, surely this is something that deserves attention during an election campaign?
Perhaps Greens holding balance of power in the State of Victoria might help address some of these issues with practical policy implementation. It only remains for us to endure 9 more weeks of distraction and misrepresentation, until we find out.
*The movement among the blogosphere is to use bit.ly &ors to link to anything in Murdochistan and make sure ad blockers are in place if one really must reference their output.