Jan 092016

This issue has bugged me for days. I’m not referring to the recent deaths from the horrendous ‘Coward Punch’ behaviour by certain miscreants within our society – as reprehensible as such behaviour is – I’m referring to the following diatribe from Federal Member for Bowman, Andrew Laming, which recently appeared on Facebook. Laming’s preferred method of controlled public address. I’ve reformatted for readability, but left in the spelling and grammatical errors.

Hi Redlands. Need your thoughts on my coward-punch policies….
There’s no place for political squabbling after another deadly coward punch, but its vital something good comes from tragedy. It is simply inadequate that Queensland Attorney General Yvette D’Ath is supporting shorter trading hours and tougher restrictions on licensed clubs, pubs and venues. That’s just one tiny element of the considered comprehensive plan we need. Australia-wide, that is likely to include safe night out precincts, local partnerships, extra police and public education., together with policy changes at federal level.
Labor Minister Anthony Lynham seems utterly fixated on trading hours and vowing ‘no changes.’ But the plan to exempt Queen’s Wharf from the new laws is a formula for every fool to Uber their way across town to extended drinking hours.
The problem is that such a minor part of this complex social challenge has now completely engulfed the debate, with political parties, pubs, clubs and even clientele taking sides.
Public education is the white noise of every social debate; its impact on perpetrators impossible to measure, but failing to do it, is itself a failure. it’s hard to imagine anyone not being aware that a punch to the head is cowardly, evil and downright dangerous, whether you are drunk or not.
In the cultural context of alcohol being a permissible drug, it is critical we sharply intervene the moment behaviour is inappropriate, rather than finding ways to molest or curtail the overwhelming majority who consume sensibly. It is beyond explanation that State Labor have dropped mandatory ID scanning, let along networking the system so that misbehavour at one venue excludes them from all.
Street thugs are simply another form of extremism; a cohort that don’t share our civic values. They could be struggling with personal issues, caught up in gang or group activity, or simply attracted to trouble and congregate where the odds are they will find it. The best we can do in a relateively free society is manage those interactions as well as our limited resources allow.
These precincts where trouble is most likely to flare represents the new front line for police, where new move-on powers and $500 on-the-spot fines are making a difference. Those copping infringements of this size sober up pretty quick, and think twice before repeating the offence next week.
Surprisingly, it is the federal Government that needs to do more. Unlike New Zealand, where an outstanding arrest warrant leads to termination of welfare payments, Canberra actually pays criminals to stay on the run, while Police are chasing them. Worse, State fines are transferred to SPER with no way to mandatorily deduct repayments from Centrelink.
There has been progress with federal Coalition moves to introduce stern activity requirements that make it harder for work-ready working age youth to live on public payments; play X-box by day and foment trouble at night.
But the federal Government can do more than simply deporting certain New Zealand citizens with criminal convictions. Through New Zealand citizenship, Pacific Islander and Maori communities can stay long-term stay in Australia, with a half of them making their home in south-east Queensland. While welfare access is denied, so too is education and any publicly supported job services or training. As a minimum, these youth need help to find work, because the cost is minimal and in the end, they all pay tax to Australia. The larger issue is funding study; something to which New Zealand is reluctant to contribute.
The final challenge is that this cohort is actually exempted from the new Centrelink activity requirements, to which the rest of us adhere, leaving them susceptible to cash jobs, idle time and the increased likelihood of being in town at night without resources and looking for action. A small change to Kiwi visa conditions is the logical solution; with a requirement that like Australians, those not working who are able to, must be seeking it in order to stay.
Clearly, reducing violence is a public good with unanimous support. Police deserve all reasonable powers they seek, with an immediate cost-recovery component that ensures that anti-social activity that destroys lives and property has an immediate financial impact. Until that debate is eased away from lock-out laws, we will continue to discard these smaller ideas that complete the anti-violence strategy that Australians are seeking.

I find myself asking why Laming is singling out Maori, Pacific Islander and New Zealand citizens in a blanket blame campaign.Yes, the perpetrators of the Cole Miller slaying, and that of Shane Merrigan were – are – New Zealand citizens. Does that automatically make ALL New Zealand citizens persona non grata? Do those events paint all Pacific Islanders with the same brush?

I have to say I find Laming’s two-faced approach to getting a politically and ideologically aligned message out, via a strongly censured Facebook site which only allows responses from a dedicated cadre of supporters, weak-kneed at best. He states – “There’s no place for political squabbling after another deadly coward punch” and then proceeds immediately to set about berating the State Labor government for enacting measures which it’s New South Wales Coalition counterpart has already enacted. This is pure and simple political opportunism on Laming’s behalf, riding on the back of the misery of the death of Cole Miller.

This article makes some very salient points on the issue. It also highlights the political game-playing which will inevitably follow such a tragedy. Also of note is the claim by the father of a recent deceased due to the ‘Coward Punch’, Thomas Kelly:

But according to Ralph Kelly, the laws introduced since his son’s death haven’t changed behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol-related violence, including one punch attacks.

“It’s way too early to see a change,” he said. “Behaviour change takes at least 15 years.”

And so it does, if not longer. This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with citizenship, race, gender or creed. The propensity for one human being to thump another human being – always male on male – comes down to upbringing and individual behaviour. Laming wants to read more of Herodotus, Tacitus and Bede as a guide to discovering just how vicious, warlike and warrior-prone the societies of the Celts were, for we white-skinned, Anglo-Celtic, so-called christian peoples that Laming purports to represent have been in our time equally as violent as he likes to obliquely claim our cousins from the Pacific Island nations and New Zealand are today. Skin colour and nostril shape have no bearing on the propensity for one drunken male to lash out at another drunken male, and yes, I am claiming here & now that Cole Miller was not exactly stone cold sober on the morning in question. The video evidence supports as much. Prove to me that an adolescent male on 1st January, in the wee hours is not even the slightest inebriated, and I’ll retract, but until it can be proven, I’ll stand by my claim. I may well be proven wrong…..at some point. As at 5 January, even the press were stating that “It is not yet known whether alcohol played a part in the incident.” Maybe so, maybe not, but I find it difficult to believe otherwise. That being the case, can the blame be solely slated home to the alleged perpetrators?

In today’s so-called ‘modern’ society we have many ills. One of which is legal abuse of alcohol. We make next to zero efforts to restrain the probabilities of that abuse. We bemoan the ultimate outcomes of that abuse, yet we do nothing about it. Oh sure, politicians make overtures about the failings of their ideological opposites, just as Laming does in his poorly worded, grammatically inaccurate, bigoted tirade, but in the end, little is achieved by ideologies of any stripe. Vested interest groups, the likes of Our Nightlife Queensland – such a euphemistic title – are claiming”

Nick Braban, from Our Nightlife Queensland, said the industry would suffer under the laws.

“There’ll be significant economic damage to the state of Queensland,” he said “We estimate that could be somewhere in the range of half a billion dollars and we’re talking about 6,000 jobs across the state.”

He also raised concerns about the laws pushing violence from the streets and into homes.

“Those in our community who are violent are not going to stop perpetrating just because a nightclub closes earlier,” he said. “We’re just going to move problems into the domestic space.”

Really? Where’s the empirical evidence? It’s rhetoric, just as Laming’s drivel is all rhetoric. The purposes are crossed but the end result, the end aim, is exactly the same. Status Quo. Yeh, terrible sorry about the victims, but hey…..we’ll nail some minority group to the wall and that’ll make all the outraged lefties and rampant, bigoted righties happy, then we can all get on with making money, okay?

There is no solution to these issues. As a society we’ve already let the Genie out of the bottle and it isn’t going back. Be outraged, be sanctified in your outrage, feel good about saying out loud what a terrible thing it is for one young man to beat another to death because he’s bigger/quicker/stronger/less intelligent/of the wrong socio-demographic order. Nothing is going to change unless we – the outraged – make it all change. I don’t believe for a nano-second, as a species, we have it in us to do anything constructive about such issues, and alcohol abuse, male-on-male violence, domestic violence, illicit drug abuse, road rage….name the societal ill of your choice…. will continue. Get used to it. It sells newspapers and keeps bigoted politicians & vested interest groups in business. I can only offer a hearty congratulations to the outraged for their good intentions, none of which will bring back the dead.

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