June 26, 2005

Hypocritical alcohol camouflage

With alcohol, Australians appear just as hypocritical as Americans. It is absolutely forbidden to drink alcohol outside licensed areas. You’re certainly not allowed to drink alcohol on the street or on the beach. To get around this, people sometimes fill alcohol in soft drink bottles and then everybody seems happy! Police are not dumb though - we’ve heard of beach patrols that demand to sniff your coke can or bottle to ensure you haven’t mixed whiskey or rum into it.

If you want to drink beer, e.g. at a street festival, you may do this in marked and fenced areas that you can only enter after having your ID checked, to ensure you’re over the legal drinking age.

Last summer we visited a Scottish gathering in Armadale, a suburb of Perth. It was a hot and sunny summer’s day and we longed for alcoholic refreshments, in form of a cool beer and a cider. This turned out to be a rather questionable pleasure, because the licensed area of about 20 sqm held approximately 2000 thirsty visitors. Next to the licensed area was a large meadow and all visitors would have had plenty of room there! But such are the laws concerning licensed areas.

Even at New Year’s Eve you’re not allowed to drink champaign on the streets. No popping of the corks there!

Australia Day is the only day where the police seems to turn a blind eye. But maybe this is out of pure self-protection, as approximately 300 000 people are out on the streets to watch the big Australia Day fireworks, and Police are just totally outnumbered and can’t possibly spend man-power or resources on controlling alcohol consumption.

This whole alcohol restriction thing appears rather hypocritical to us, as statistics show that Australians neither drink less alcohol nor less often nor are they less drunk than Austrians. A side effect of this “prohibition” is that teens when they reach legal drinking age and are allowed to order alcohol in pubs, are prone to binge drinking that can lead to severe alcohol poisoning.

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