ACT Stanhope government – Authoritarian and out of touch

Steve D 13 December 2010 41

Well, at least when it comes to social policy and their treatment of the ACT community (Us). And certainly when it comes to the language they use – a dead give away. Consider what the Office of Regulatory Services has to say about Designated Outdoor Smoking Areas. And please note that I am not taking issue with the notion of having separate smoking areas. I like many other don’t like hazy smoke filled areas. That’s about clean air.

‘The main purpose of a DOSA is to allow an area for customers to briefly enter in order to smoke and then return to non-smoking areas of the premises. It is not intended to be a place to ‘hang out’ and socialise. Consequently, there are restrictions on what can occur in a DOSA.’

It has to be one of the gems of Australian politics. Tobacco is not illegal, yet the Stanhope government goes as far as to send a message that clearly indicates they want a section of the population discriminated against to the extent that it is OK for the government to take steps to prevent them from ‘hanging out and socialising’. And it goes further.

The Stanhope government even goes as far as to define what the entertainment is that must be banned so that DOSA is unattractive.

‘The Act defines entertainment as including television (for example, televised sporting events), but does not include public announcements or recorded music. For example, premises may provide taped music in the DOSA and announcements such as “Meal number 35 is ready”. It should be noted that the definition of entertainment in the legislation is not exhaustive. Entertainment would include other forms of entertainment such as viewing sport, playing sport, radio broadcasts or live music etc.’

Well bugger me. If I choose to enter a DOSA and listen to my iPod I bloody well will!

As I say, the language is a dead give away and the approach of making an area unattractive? Smacks of psychology 101. So again more behaviourist manipulation.

But let’s go further with this. I don’t know about anyone else, but the apparently endless regulation of the lives of individuals and the collective life of the community is a hallmark of the ACT Government. Office of Regulatory Services? Smacks of the Stanhope Governments brown bombers. Is the Canberra community that lawless and individual citizens so inconsiderate of one another that the administrative boot of this government needs to endlessly stamp its ugly imprint on the community? I think not.

Not let’s shift to a slightly bigger picture. The ACT government behaves less like a State or Territory government and more like a local council that is out of control. Mind you, it is also worth noting that over the past ten years the pendulum has swung away from the rights of citizens and more toward the right of governments – to walk all over there own citizens.

Mind you, at the same time the Stanhope government can’t get health right, small business continues to drown in red tape, the transport system is a mess and let’s not talk about the fact they even seem to find it hard to keep the roads and footpaths in good repair. Balance that against the fact that the only thing they seem to be consistently good at is gouging more and more money from the community in the form of taxes and charges.

Of course, some of this comes down to the public roles played by individual politicians. If you look at the media performance of Katy Gallagher problems rarely get acknowledged, Andrew Barr continues to play wedge politics with the Canberra community – e.g Trying to play baby boomers and younger members of he community off against one another over urban infill – and John Stanhope nigh on plays the role of Pontious Pilate when an problems come up. Talk about a triad of denial.

And the bottom line? Maybe at the next election we should vote for whichever party has the courage and trust to run a truly consultative government and place more of an emphasise on individual freedom and community responsibility. And one that is transparent I might add.

If I had to place the Stanhope government on a political spectrum I would describe some of their behaviours as heading towards the fascist end of the scale. However, let’s be kind and call it paternalism out of control.

Anyone going to hang out and socialise this Christmas?


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41 Responses to ACT Stanhope government – Authoritarian and out of touch
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clp clp 2:21 pm 15 Dec 10

I was frankly surprised they aried the interview on 666 it was very A Current Affair ish in its tenor (woe is me everyone is at fault) – they were complaining about having mud in their houses and suggesting someone could have got really sick and that there should be an inquest into the event (when no one was even injured).

dvaey dvaey 11:23 am 15 Dec 10

But then again its much easier to whinge about those who are in charge.

Reminds me of the Captain’s Flat couple interviewed on the radio yesterday afternoon who wanted to know why the council didn’t oragnise their evacuation when its really the SES’s responsibility.

What ever happened to personal responsibility? Didnt everyone know these rains were coming? Weren’t there warnings all over the news and internet before, during and after the rain? Even RA was up-to-date on what was happening. I suppose this couple would have also complained that during the bushfires, the firies didnt come and evacuate them, because they were too stupid to figure out they were in danger themselves.

clp clp 9:32 am 15 Dec 10

But then again its much easier to whinge about those who are in charge.

Reminds me of the Captain’s Flat couple interviewed on the radio yesterday afternoon who wanted to know why the council didn’t oragnise their evacuation when its really the SES’s responsibility.

clp clp 9:30 am 15 Dec 10

Having lived in a couple of states in Australia I find the ACT Government a breath of fresh air (pun not intended). Yes at times they act like a local council but thats what happens when you don’t have a local council. I find the Chief Minister’s weekly appearance on 666 a rather quaint practice (similar to when I was oriented to TCH and the CEO of ACT Health gave a welcome speech). There also seem to be about 4 pollies who are ministers of everything – I would find the hat changing exhausting.

The truth is they appear far more approachable and accountable than their counterparts just about anywhere. Agreed there are some clunkers in the wording of their legislation but I think that is a product of having to be both state government and local council – I really don’t think its a product of this government per se. Smoking laws are an excellent example of this – in other states you have local councils instigating bans on beaches and all sorts of places – (providing for the public amenity) – but you have the state government responsible for health policy (looking at ways to reduce smoking).

I’m sorry that the targets become the smokers themselves but I’ve stated my thoughts on that above.

BTW as for the idea of parking meters in hospitals – TCH just has a new multi-storey car park built which is currently free to staff, patients and visitors – find me one of those in a hospital in another Australian city and I’ll eat my hat.

Steve D Steve D 11:00 am 14 Dec 10

Hi clp

Tobacco certainly would not be legalised if it was discovered today, but the reality is that it’s not the case. How the ACT government regards and engages with citizens certainly is Stanhope’s responsibility. It would have been much more transparent for the government to tell the community that they were going to make DOSA’s so unpleasant that smokers would not use them.

The language and the mindset is the issue here. It just happens that they were game enough to use it in this particular bit of legislation. And look at the conduct of this government over things like urban infill, school closures, ever increasing costs of utilities – and I just loved the reaction to the ABS reporting that we had the most expensive water in the country. To wit, we have smaller bills. We do as people really pull back on consumption. Citizens doing good, not the government.

And let’s not forget gems like parking meters in hospitals.

The ACT government is basically a local council with an inflated view of itself that we pay for that.

shadow boxer shadow boxer 10:25 am 14 Dec 10

shadow boxer said :

shadow boxer said :

I watched these laws in action at the Lighthouse on Friday night, the smokers literally ducked under a rope and had a smoke, I continued to chat to my mate while he had a smoke and we were separated by no more than 1 metre and a rope.

What about the venue’s responsibility to ensure that smoke from a DOSA does not enter other outdoor food/beverage areas? I hardly think that a rope will stop that.

I’m not sure, just stating what happened, there is not a DOSA as such at the lighthouse, essentially anyone outside the rope is on public property surrounding the lake.

It was almost impossible for the venue security to police, they seemed to focus on making sure people didn’t take drinks outside the rope

clp clp 9:37 am 14 Dec 10

In regards to the OP I don’t think you need to accuse the government of pretending to hide how they feel about smoking as I don’t think they need to hide it.
Yes the unfortunate consequence of banning smoking in certain areas as made them feel like pariahs but the benefits to the community as a whole far outweigh this one negative.
The counter arguments – re curtailing civil liberties (ie smoking isn’t illegal) and other things kill you (junk food, cars etc etc) are very tired and trotted out anytime new legislation is introduced. But who wants to go back to the days of people smoking at their desks a la Mad Men? Yes its always hard to deal with a change to these laws but people adapt and get over it.

There is overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that restricting smoking in public reduces rates of smoking and smoking is the largest contributer to preventable early deaths.
Its a complete no-brainer.

Its only a historical legacy which keeps tobacco legal – imagine if it was newly discovered today. There is no way it would be passed for human consumption.

I would see it available on prescription only to people who have signed up to a users-program.

This has nothing to do with John Stanhope – well other than the competition between the various states and territories to show who is more with it in regards to these issues.

Steve D Steve D 7:53 am 14 Dec 10

Ouch! WordPress ‘did not like’ embed code in comments.

I wouldn’t say the ACT Stanhope government is by any means up there in the evil stakes. However, I would say that when governments display authoritarianism and arrogance when dealing with citizens then it is time for them to go as what they are effectively doing is undermining our democratic freedoms.

It is well worth taking time out to watch Julian Assange presenting at the Oslow freedom forum to get a feel for that.

Assange at Oslow freedom forum – Part 1 http://youtu.be/ZYspXgSQTy4

Assange at Oslow freedom forum – Part 2 http://youtu.be/4S6002S8PTU

Steve D Steve D 7:48 am 14 Dec 10

I wouldn’t say the ACT Stanhope government is by any means up there in the evil stakes. However, I would say that when governments display authoritarianism and arrogance when dealing with citizens then it is time for them to go as what they are effectively doing is undermining our democratic freedoms.

It is well worth taking time out to watch Julian Assange presenting at the Oslow freedom forum to get a feel for that.

Part 1

Part 2

I-filed I-filed 10:22 pm 13 Dec 10

Jon “Kim Il Jung” Stanhope and Andrew “Hates People With Gardens” Barr require Shane, Amanda, Meredith and Caroline to present their *rses to them daily – so there isn’t much hope for Canberra unless the Liberals get a bit more functional. I can’t believe the Greens are so unethical as to rollover on every issue other than the little irrelevant “puff stuff” sops that Stanhope is prepare to throw at them, like banning shopping bags.

Seriously, can’t we get rid of this government before it wrecks this city altogether?

peterepete peterepete 9:51 pm 13 Dec 10

Realitycheck said “I can make a choice to drink myself stupid, sit near a smoker or move away or tell them they stink and are an inconsiderate arsehole.” – Not if you are an employee of the establishment. I’d be interested in hearing some positive thoughts on how to protect employees from the dangers of passive smoking. I think you’ll find thats what this is about. Personally I wonder whether just letting employers work out whats a safe environment for their staff and living with the consequences would produce some good results. Perhaps its a situation where regulation helps employers with this rather than them having to stick there neck out and give up the business to others that are less concerned.

m_ratt m_ratt 8:51 pm 13 Dec 10

shadow boxer said :

I watched these laws in action at the Lighthouse on Friday night, the smokers literally ducked under a rope and had a smoke, I continued to chat to my mate while he had a smoke and we were separated by no more than 1 metre and a rope.

What about the venue’s responsibility to ensure that smoke from a DOSA does not enter other outdoor food/beverage areas? I hardly think that a rope will stop that.

Thumper Thumper 6:41 pm 13 Dec 10

JB has called this one right, no need for a third umpire.

The Stanhope government, with the support of the Greens, cannot lose, in fact, can never lose. They know it, the Libs know it, everyone knows it, and so they, the ALP, can do what they want.

And it will be a reasonably cool day in hell when the Greens side with the tories. No, it will be the next ice age.

Stanhope can do what he wants with impunity. Might as well roll out the red carpet for our next CM, The Minister Not Responsible, Katy Gallagher.

housebound housebound 4:26 pm 13 Dec 10

Funny how a dislike of authoritarian Stanhope makes someone automatically qualify for the Liberal party.

Steve D Steve D 3:52 pm 13 Dec 10

A few people have asked whether I am a member of the Liberal party. I am not a member of, or affiliated with any political party. Rather, as a citizen I get a tad irritated by what looks like a pattern of behaviour.

Outside of may day job I do this >>> http://bit.ly/YIHEy and to give you an idea of where I’m coming from check out the Gov 2.0 Conference held in Canberra last month >>> http://www.gov2.com.au/speakers

The point is that this is not about the smoking per se – look at the language the ACT government uses. As to their involvement in the Gov 2.0 agenda – I am reliably informed they are not there. Consultation seems to consist of inviting people to submit reports – fine in their place – but where is the blog, where is making it easy for the community to get involved? The review of the ACTPS is a case in point http://www.actpsreview.act.gov.au/

So there you go.

amarooresident3 amarooresident3 3:01 pm 13 Dec 10

Is this the same Stanhope who regularly gets berated on this very website for not being authoritarian enough?

It’s funny how the Government suddenly becomes authoritarian when you don’t like what their doing.

futto futto 2:12 pm 13 Dec 10

I don’t smoke and dislike smoking however the current arrangements are fine as far as I’m concerned. I can generally go out and eat without worrying about smoke. Ultimately, smoking is a legal drug and people have to be allowed to smoke.

I’m still upset with this government that they banned fireworks.

cmdwedge cmdwedge 2:06 pm 13 Dec 10

Don’t worry, you won’t get the chance to elect Stanhope in 2012 anyway. Katy will be Chief Minister by that election. Zed shortly afterwards, hopefully.

zippyzippy zippyzippy 1:49 pm 13 Dec 10

Are you affiliated with the Liberal Party at all, Steve D? If so, in what capacity?

Special G Special G 1:27 pm 13 Dec 10

If you want to smoke stuff off to NSW. When you smoke with a capacity to keep your second hand smoke to yourself you can smoke where ever you like until then learn to live with it.

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