Alcopops Fizz…

This is a guest post from Scaper…

“The Coalition– has escaped a damaging Senate vote on the alcopops tax hike for another six weeks after time ran out for the government’s attempts to push through the bill.

On Monday, opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton announced that the Coalition would back the controversial 70 per cent excise increase on alcopops, in place since April last year but yet to be passed into law.”

Well, it certainly was a busy week for government business, was there anything positive achieved in both houses?

Ever since this tax was proposed I’ve had the belief that it was for revenue purposes, not to discourage the young from binge drinking but there seems to be evidence to the contrary.

“The government has promised that the measure will help reduce binge drinking among teenage girls, citing as a sign of its success figures showing a drop in the number of standard drinks consumed in the aftermath of the alcopops excise hike.”

So it appears that this measure is being effective or is it? There is no analytical evidence on the use of elicit drugs so we would like to believe that some are reducing their drinking capacity opposed to shifting their use.

Now I remember a while back that a health study concluded that consuming four standard drinks in one sitting constitutes binge drinking, so based on this and observance of people’s drinking habits indicate that a greater proportion of the drinkers in this country are bingers!

Maybe when our ambition to become a republic is realised we can rename the nation ‘Bingestralia’, and our national emblem could be a hop and a grape on a bucket?

I’ve made it known here that I have given up getting pissed and my observations since of television is that alcohol consumption is saturating this entertainment medium but is that where the real problem lies?

We would like to believe such but the reality is, children’s main influence is their parents that they observe getting pissed to their eyeballs at best on social occasions and at worst several times a week which they aspire to which is a deeply ingrained cultural issue that to be frank, there would have to be generational change that I do not see eventuating.

So, let us not kid ourselves that increasing excise is going to have much affect and until the cultural issues are attempted to be addressed this alcopop excise increase is nothing more than taxation equalisation.

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Broken Promises

All the papers today are running with the story about the Rudd government breaking an election promise with the scrapping of the Grocery Watch scheme.

SMH says:

THE Rudd Government has buckled under pressure from the big supermarkets and abandoned its $13 million election promise to force grocery prices down.

The Australian says:

THE Rudd government has dumped the centrepiece of its election promise to keep down grocery prices, axing its controversial Grocery Choice website less than a week before its scheduled relaunch.

I know that some blogocrats have been discussing this in recent posts, but I think that most will realise that (rightly or wrongly) the government tried to do something. Even if GorceryWatch (like FuelWatch) have failed – the government can still say that it tried. And so I wonder if this memo of broken promise will gain traction.

Question Time

We made it to the House of Representative just after Question Time had started. We were seated behind the opposition benches. What I found interesting was the action away from the despatch box. Next time I go I will take a pad and pencil to make some better notes. This is all from a hazy memory.

When a question was being answered there is a lot of movement on both benches. Albanese wanders around talking to backbenchers, priming them (I suspect) on the next Dorothy Dixer question to asked, and generally keeping moods high. Abbott does a similar thing.

 What was also interesting was the space behind the Speaker. There is a open space away from the prying eyes of the TV cameras which is where Albanese and Abbott would meet after a nod of the head from one of them. The interaction between them was one of friends and mutual respect. Much smiling and touching of shoulders. To me it looked like a “well, we are gonna do this next” and “OK – we will respond like this”. I suspect that parliament needs this level of cooperation to function, even if in front of the cameras and public it looks like open warfare.

Here is my (brief) assessment of some in the house:

Harry Jenkins (Speaker): Looks at time completely bored and that he is about to fall asleep.

Rudd:  Commands the house well when he speaks. Often confers with the advisers while other questions are being answered. Sometimes offers some words to those about to answer questions or even looks up to the person answering to makes a suggestion.

Swan: Does not convey confidence when he speaks. Seemed ill at ease.

Tanner: Very polished, and seems to be part of the inner circle that would huddle to give advise (I not that Swan did not seem be part of this).

Albanese: Looks to be an effective manager of the house.

The nodders: Those sitting behind the despatch box do seem to have their nodding down pat.

Fitzgibbon: If he was further away from the despatch box he would have been in the senate. This is probably so that he does not make it onto the TV.

Turnbull: Would just sit there reading and writing. Often refers to the books in front of him (especially a green one – anyone know what it is?) Seemed not a happy puppy.

Hockey: All arms and mock bravado. At times just wanders around smiling and laughing with his own backbenchers.

Bishop: Still scary. Only asked one question. Like Swan, did not seem to be part of the inner circle that would huddle.

Abbott: Would ask the officials for the time of the answers (the officials have a timer). Would often wander behind the speaker to chat to Albanese. Looks at ease on the floor of the house.

Ruddock: I am positive I saw him move, dismissing the notion that he is not alive.

One final observation, I think it was an independent that asked Rudd a question on Climate Change. After Rudd finished answering, Rudd went up to the backbench to have a chat with that member (and the member beside him) for about 5mins. Seem genuinely interested with chatting to the member.

We also went across to the senate, but everyone was snoring.