NEWS AND VIEWS
Monday, February 11, 2008
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Big brother spreads
Call in for a beer at an increasing number of Northern Territory clubs and pubs and idEye data scanning software will record your drivers licence and store your picture. This so-called "Alcohol Management System" in some places is linked via wireless telephone internet connection to a central server in Darwin. The N.T. Liquor Commission describes the System in this way:
Do not fool yourself that this latest example of big brother is just something designed to curb problem drinking by Aborigines in the Northern Territory. Despite serious concerns about privacy, up to a dozen clubs and hotels in Victoria have introduced the system and hold details about customers for up to 28 days.
Peanut butter and the nanny state
I kid you not. Peanut eaters are about to be forced outside office buildings to eat their forbidden nuts alongside all those desperate smokers as the nanny state reaches ever further into people's lives. The NSW Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission building in Sydney's CBD has outlawed all peanut products from for fear an employee could go into shock and die from the fumes. And this edict with its Peanut Free Zone posters is despite the fact, as the Sydney Tele reported , that Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's Rob Loblay claims it is impossible to trigger an allergic reaction from smell.
A Sensitive GG
I confess to being a bit of an admirer of our Governor General Michael Jeffery with his dignified style and lack of desire to use his office to try and kid Australians that he should have a role that hopefully for most of the time is strictly ceremonial. Not for him the Sir William Deane approach of trying to influence the public debate and none of the controversy that retired politicians like Bill Hayden and Sir Paul Hasluck naturally brought with them to the job. Yet it is this very attractive and restrained approach to being Australia's head of state that occasionally brings commentators to criticize General Jeffery – like the recent column in the Courier Mail by Mike O'Connor with his description of the GG as a man who having "risen without trace … would easily head any list of least-known Australian public figures, having blended in with the red carpet with such success as to become invisible."
What made this unfair attack – it wrongly claimed General Jeffery was seeking re-appointment – was the fact that this time Government House chose to respond, with Malcolm Hazell, Official Secretary to the Governor-General, writing a detailed letter defending his boss to the Editor of the paper.
The Daily Reality Check
There is more interest in a black American presidential candidate than the Australian apology to if the Crikey survey of 10 local internet sites is any guide. Not for the first time, Barack Obama's battle for the Democratic Party nomination features more prominently than local politics in the stories that people are actually reading. Perhaps it shows that people have a proper understanding of what events will really influence their lives. That golden oldie Malcolm Fraser intrigued Age readers with a claim that his Liberal Party needs a drastic fix and at the Oz the Australian defence minister issuing a warning to NATO about Afghanistan topped the list.
The Pick of This Morning's Political Coverage
Bishop to fight ALP abolition of AWAs - Jennifer Hewett, The Australian
Liberals leap to Rudd's People's Power jig – Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald
DOCS insiders blow whistle on tragedy – Ruth Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald
Kevin Greene caned students with ruler, DOCS clogged with his requests - Joe Hildebrand, Sydney Daily Telegraph
Furore over lost millions for hospitals – Tim Martain, Hobart Mercury