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What has become of our national character?

By Matt Hurley

Australians are blessed with a unique and enduring national character, forged in our relatively short history by events, people and folklore. A world famous stereotype, we are thought to be laid back, easy going larrikins; proponents of the “fair go”.

Pity that it is fanciful at best. In contemporary Australia our national character is an ironic hypocrisy, and a demonstrable fallacy.

Our very beginnings were critical in the development of Australian identity, for without them, there would be no Australia. As a convict colony, we had our [colonial] beginnings as boat people. Boat loads of what some may argue were undesirable people.

By contrast, we now demonise and abuse those who arrive here no less legitimately than our ancestors. In fact these desperate people trying to arrive here by boat today are only seeking asylum from some terrible part of the world, when we colonials arrived by boat it was British imperialism, nothing short of an invasion against the natives. At what point in our history did undesirables truly arrive by boat?

The 1854 Eureka rebellion in the colony of Victoria, and subsequent siege was a significant moment in our history, which undoubtedly contributed greatly to our perceived national character. The miners’ revolt against the colonial authorities unfair miners’ license tax had mass public support and resulted in the Electoral Act of 1856.

Could you imagine if such a situation were to take place today? If a group of people actually took arms against the authorities for some cause, no matter how noble, Murdoch’s propaganda machine would not have to work hard at all to ensure public opinion stood firmly against the rebels. We would already be utterly outraged by the very notion. We get bent out of shape about the smallest of trivialities, let alone when protests against the government’s patently unfair attack on remote Aboriginal communities impacts our commute from work, for example. We cannot abide the most meagre effect on our own busy schedules for a righteous cause, how could one possibility think we would now support a civil war over a tax? The people of the state of Victoria 2015 have zero connection to the people of the colony of Victoria 1854.

The folklore of Ned Kelly is another Victorian colonial era narrative that we feel is intrinsically part of us, an intimate element of our identity, or at least we’d like to think so. Ned was an impoverished larrikin who stood up against the colonial authorities, in utter defiance he thumbed his nose at them and trod a fine line between folk hero and monster.

Now consider a similar situation in today’s Australia. Suppose a ruffian from any given disadvantaged community did a runner after shooting a couple of cops. Even if, like Ned, it was a simple matter of self preservation, the very fact would be inexcusable. The ensuing game of cat and mouse would not be reported but dictated by the media, and I doubt our contemporary fugitive would find such community support as Ned enjoyed on the run. In our current Australia it seems in poor taste to even acknowledge police wrongdoings, we have been conditioned to accept that they are infallible and beyond reproach. To consider that our contemporary fugitive may have been the victim of persecution would seem absurd.

A modern day siege of Glenrowan would also prove at odds to our perception of the historical event. Would the bloody skirmish between a band of outlaws and the police be remembered as the defiant last stand of the Kelly Gang? It seems doubtful for much the same reason as a modern day Eureka Stockade.

It is clear that if these colonial era events laid the foundations for our Australia, someone stuffed up the frame and roof. Nothing is lining up square.

So what of the Aussie larrikin? The Aussie larrikin is dead. Long dead. We now call anyone who displays any tendency toward larrikinism a “hoon”. Condemn them outright, dob them into police, watch with glee as they are dealt with on a worrying number of reality television shows glorifying overzealous policing. Any display of rowdiness or even youthful exuberance is invariably labelled antisocial. In Queensland there is even anti-partying laws! State enforced wowserism.

I have read elsewhere recently something that suggested our beloved larrikin of verse, the Jolly Swagman, would no longer even be able to camp by a billabong. And it’s spot on. Our love of bureaucratic process and overzealous law enforcement has killed the larrikin.

And what of the laid-back Aussie? Well, this stereotype is true in a perverse, corrupted way. Laid back to the point of sheer laziness, we are a manifestly apathetic people. We just don’t care about anything, least of all politics, and it has naturally came to pass that our shepherds have turned to wolves.

And this is the ultimate irony: I believe that it is the one scant element of our national character that we truly do possess has been our biggest weakness. Our carefree “she’ll be right” attitude has resulted in the neglect and deterioration of our national identity.

 

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29 comments

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  1. babyjewels10

    Couldn’t agree more.

  2. stephengb2014

    I notice no comment on this article!

    Why – because its true. I have been in Australia since 1978, whilst I have made a good living here I have stidied and passed more than 65 exams to prove my qualifications and advance them to keep ahead of technology. I didmost of these exams on my bat and at my own expense. I have noted that so called Donky Die Aussies have come in three categories, tjose that resented my earning a living better than theirs, those that resnted that I came here to take Aussie jobs, and those that celebrated my successes and my fortunate circumstance.

    Over the last ten to fifteen years (actually since Bob Hawke limited the ability of workers to go on strike) I have noticed that the elitists have becpme more than the not so elite and I have seen a defonate resentment of the elitists toward those not so elite, in paryticular a growing number of people with a business management degree acting like they are more elite than the elitists before them.

    Npw I look at the 47% who seem to support the Abbott government and I am amazed at the shear ignorance displayed and the hypocracy of some of those that make comments particularly on social media.

    What surprises me is that every single person who is an employee, do not seem to understand that every single one of the conditions of emplpyment that they enjoy today was won by blue coller workers with the aid of unions. Their dtandard of living was eearned for them by men and women going pn strike and doing without.

  3. Blinkyewok

    A thought provoking article. We really need to snap out of the apathy and look at how fragmented our society has become under the Abbott govt. How do we raise awareness among the uninterested voters, when Murdoch controls so much of the media.

  4. evacripps

    I particularly appreciate the larrikin/hoon description. Growing up in a rural area, donuts at the end of driveways and fishtails on dirt roads were considered a right of passage for the newly licenced. Despite the deliberate acts being particularly beneficial for learning vehicle control and consequently averting potentially fatal crashes in adverse conditions, those who partake in such activities now risk loss of licence and their vehicle being crushed. The community applauds the cracking down on such risk-takers and the harsh punishments metted out to youngsters who are only likely to harm themselves if something goes wrong. It seems a common theme from our modern ‘colonial authorities’ to punish people to protect them.

  5. pmahnken

    Thanks for the article. It’s a hugely complex matter, a national identity. It is always story and myth, unconsciously and deliberately constructed from real experience and delusion, by the whole nation, by the Banjo and C.E.W. Bean and the Bulletin etc as well as by all those British Empire propagandists luring our young men to come on the great adventure and die for nothing in WW1. The battler reacting to the landscape and the bludger are a part of it; everyman the boozer used to be, along with the wowser; all the different women are our national identity and the people of many cultures, the displaced indigenous people. Forgetting the problems of the world in watching sports – all we can get – is a persistent Australian habit. Now and for much of the last century, the relentless input of film, television and internet products from the USA is scripting our thinking, our values and culture for us, just as Mother Britain did in the first century and a half. I want a recognition of universal humanity but not a global, homogenised, corporate-manufactured culture. I fear ignorant, angry tribalism and racism but I definitely vote to preserve some parochial human diversity and odd-boddity. Freedom to be a bit wacko, troppo, queer and creative is a precious part of the Australian identity/myth.

  6. Kate M

    Great Article. I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately – how we don’t really live into our ‘ideal’ of what the National character is.

    When I hear Abbott say we are a kind and generous people who believe in people having a go, I want to cringe.

  7. mars08

    Also (supposedly) anti-authoritarian, generous, rebellious, unflappable, skeptical, stolid, stoic, good-humoured and irreverent. Ah, the mythical Australian…

  8. Douglas Evans

    I distrust sweeping generalizations. National character is one such generalization. The great Aussie character was largely invented by Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. When dissected (most of) the prime characteristics of our Aussie national character show themselves to be shared with most (perhaps all) other nationalities. ‘Mateship’ for example. We might regard the idea of a larrikin with a certain sentimental warmth these days but at the time the term was coined In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term generally meant “a lout, a hoodlum” or “a young urban rough, a hooligan” – a person to be feared and avoided at all costs. Times change.

  9. mars08

    @Douglas Evans +1

  10. pmahnken

    “.. schools are where children learn to be Australians and they learn about citizenship and they learn about rights and they learn respect for other people,” says a school principal doing great things especially with asylum seeker children (and I love that she is going to ANU to tell the ivory tower a thing or two; see http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2015/s4298964.htm) but … I reckon they learn as much about leadership and misrule by watching or refusing to watch Abbott and co., by watching CBA post $9 billion profit while some parents struggle to balance the home budget and others don’t. That’s Australian character: in the society we create around us every day, both wonderful and “could be so much better”.

  11. jim

    Stephen, Bob Hawke was influential in limiting strike action which goes against his grain however IMO did far more good than harm The Hawke Government created Medicare and Land care, brokered the (Prices and Incomes Accord,) formed APEC, floated the Australian dollar, deregulated the financial sector, introduced the Family Assistance Scheme, announced Advance Australia Fair as the official national anthem and initiated superannuation pension schemes for all workers.

  12. jim

    Only to-day I was thinking there’s something in the air that smells a little and it is the rednecks where if you do any little thing out of the ordinary you’re treated like a leper like if the self service machine at the supermarket goes “Please wait for assistance” all heads look your way as if it’s a big deal and you feel all eyes sizing you up ’cause of a machine that calls you out,I says under me breath “thanks for making me look stupid machine”, well not only did thieving convicts come here by boat but also gold hunters came here by the droves it was all about the money or bust. and mostly it still is, alas.

  13. corvus boreus

    Doug Evans,
    I thought to express similar sentiments, only more sharply.

    The term ‘hoon’ is largely specific to car-worship, those who do the burnouts and fishtails that evacripps finds so admirable.
    The ‘larrikin’ has evolved into the ‘bogan’, who seem to display a serious fetish for Ned and the Eureka diggers through conspicuous appropriation of their slogans and logos. There seems to no shortage of such.
    Here is your modern jolly swagman:
    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/9/1386631598358/ce59eb3f-e8b1-470e-a0e1-83fb6f9cb9cd-2060×1236.jpeg

  14. M-R

    I believe very strongly that it was John Howard who caused the initial rot: après lui, le déluge.

  15. Eva

    @Corvus – The point is that we are a nation which favours punitive measures to ‘keep people safe’ despite punishment doing nothing of the sort. This is encapsulated perfectly in Abbott’s boat turn back policy and the cruel treatment of asylum seekers – based on the assumption the abominable treatment will deter them from getting on boats therefore ‘saving people from drowning.’

    There is a distinct connection between how society treats larrikins, hoons, criminals, drug users, mentally ill and vulnerable people. The target is different but the method is the same. We are acclimatised to ‘deterrence’ policies, harsh punishments and draconian laws because the Government enacts them constantly against the ‘socially unacceptable’. Any objection is seen as ‘being soft on criminals’ or ‘not caring about the safety of the community’.

    Look at where we are now – an asylum seeker policy labelled as torturous by the UN, a Government with a huge ‘national security’ agenda. It seems that there are plenty who attempt to maintain a moral high ground when it comes to certain demographics, but fully embrace harsh punishments on other people despite punitive measures being completely ineffective at deterrence or rehabilitation. Or in fact addressing the root cause of a problem.

    Next time you warmly clap your hands for a government crack-down on ‘hoons’ and ‘speeding drivers’ and other antisocial and irresponsible behaviour, consider this:

    We have accepted that crushing vehicles, extortionate fines or jail is the correct way to deal with a person breaking a regulatory offence, even if they have not caused any harm to another person and there was no chance of harm being caused.

    We have accepted that, because the governments repeatedly tell us, that double demerits, harsher punishments and longer jail terms, including mandatory sentencing, will ‘send a message’ to naughty offenders.

    We accept, because our governments tell us, that people will suddenly act as responsible upstanding citizens who blindly and obediently comply with societal norms, cease offending, stop taking drugs and cure themselves of mental illness, because ‘harsh punishments’ act as a ‘deterrent’.

    And yet we are surprised that the majority of the nation are not the slightest bit phased by Abbott’s (and the ALP’s) harsh asylum seeker policies, treatment of indigenous people and other vulnerable people in the community? Surprised, after being repeatedly told by the governments and accepting that harsh punishments and increased fines and penalties will deter offenders?

    The government, supported by the Murdoch media are telling people that asylum seekers are illegal. That’s all the population hears. An astounding number of Australians believe that to be the truth. They also seem to believe that we are being overrun by illegal immigrants. There is no question in their minds that punitive measures will sort the issue.
    We already have an established society that accepts harsh treatment as a workable solution to dealing with ‘problems’.

    No wonder there is no mass outrage.

    Just for some context, Punishment does not, and never has, deterred people from engaging in any kind of antisocial or illegal behaviour. Road traffic offences are almost always a ‘victimless offence’ – it’s not even a crime. Yet we as a society roundly applaud the government when harsher penalties are introduced. Why?

    Why is it we find hooliganism and youthful exuberance so offensive that it must be dealt with more strictly than other types of socially unacceptable behaviour? It has nothing to do with ‘safety’ – Australians are over twice as likely to commit suicide than die in a car crash. Australians are approximately 1.6 times more likely to die from an accidental fall than in a car crash. Car crashes, as a preventable cause of death don’t even rate in the ABS statistics.

    Harsh punishments lead to unjust outcomes. They have ongoing repercussions for often the most disadvantaged people in the communities and create new generations of susceptibility to becoming part of the ‘vulnerable’ in the population. The ‘war on drugs’, another favourite for harsher and more draconian laws and punishments, is a war on sick people. The greatest determinant of whether a person will go to jail is if they have been there before. We are creating an underclass of people who are repeatedly punished for their circumstances, poor choices and sickness. We don’t provide rehabilitation, support and we don’t have a community that accepts responsibility for looking after the vulnerable. We have a community of people who create different standards based on what they find personally offensive.

    The moral outrage against traffic offenders has led us to exactly where we are now. A brainwashed nation that accepts the harsh and cruel treatment of anyone labelled as socially undesirable. We are conditioned, from the most basic of failures to conform to accept that being horrible is the best way to curb antisocial behaviour.

    Is it any wonder we ended up with Abbott as Prime Minister?

  16. Michael Taylor

    I can only agree with you, Eva. John Howard changed everything.

    My Honour’s thesis studied the emergence of racism in 1890s in the lead up to Federation. What we saw in the 1890s was on display again after 2001. Howard sent us back a century.

  17. Sam

    Michael Taylor it was easy for Howard to tap into that fear and take many back a century. In part due the to the lack of progress since the 1890 up until 2001. In part due to the myth and legend that forms the popular national identity

  18. Möbius Ecko

    M-R, Eva and Migs.

    Absolutely Howard is the direct cause for the dire and abject place we now find ourselves in, as much as Howard is now attempting to rewrite history and distance himself from the base gormless attack dog he created and unleashed.

    Belatedly short term history is beginning to report Howard for the failure he was, mostly on his unsound handling of the economy, but also its starting to report on the failures in other areas of his government, like playing race for political gain.

    My bet would be that Howard never believed his Baskervilles hound would be let off the leash let alone become leader of the pack.

  19. Anomander

    I am no longer proud to be an Australian.

    I am thankful to have been born into the safest nation at the safest time in human history. I am appreciative of the beauty surrounding me, the amazing array of resources at my very fingertips, good food, air, water and a place to live. I also acknowledge the wonderful achievements we humans have made.

    I see a government hell bent on social engineering, in dismantling our great institutions, selling-off our assets and privatising our services. I see a populace more concerned about a cooking show than the fact their fellow Australians are being harmed by our very own government. That multiple acts of atrocity are being conducted in my name, against my express wishes, upon people with whom I have no quarrel. That the very people elected to represent us all, to outline a vision and set a path toward the future – do not in fact do that at all – instead they do the bidding of those with money and power, even to extent of harming those they should be supporting or protecting.

    I see our government dividing society and marginalising groups because it garners support from an ignorant minority. The same government willingly prepared to send our troops to yet another pointless foreign war, whose purpose is to make money for arms manufacturers, and whose outcome will be the deaths of countless more innocents

    No, I don’t see much in modern Australia that would make me proud.

  20. Mark Needham

    jim “about the money or bust. and mostly it still is, alas.”

    Agree, Jim, greed and mediocrity.
    Mark Needham

  21. corvus boreus

    Eva,
    You made some assertions and generalisations that I disagree with.

    For example, you say “Punishment does not, and never has, deterred people from engaging in any kind of antisocial or illegal behaviour”. Speaking for myself, that statement is wrong. Considering the possible legal consequences has often influenced my decision making regarding illicit behavior, eg driving whilst intoxicated. Personal risk assessment sometimes succeeds when my ethics fall asleep at the whee. l highly suspect the same applies to others.

    Similarly, the ‘hoon’ offenses with consequences of impounding/crushing of cars are (aggravated burnouts excepted) those acts most likely to cause death or injury to others (eg drag racing and attempting to evade pursuit at speed).
    Your heart may bleed for this loss of convenience and material possession for serious/serial offenders, but for me these people seem to be committing gratuitous offenses, through their own choice, with callous disregard for the safety and well-being of others.
    I often work in hazardous environments, but the closest I have come to being killed over the last year was by a pair of moronic arseholes drag racing in muscle-cars, who came screaming over a hill side by side.
    Hoon driving is only a victim-less offense until it kills or maims a victim.

    This espousal of serious punitive consequences for serious transgressions does not mean I automatically make the leap to, say, endorsing the brutal outsourced mandatory incarceration of children because their parents tried to get them away from adverse or dangerous circumstances, as is often the case with asylum seekers.
    I believe in flexibility within parameters of punishment of offense, which should be applied after a critical examination of nature of intent and possible wider repercussions, and an examination of surrounding circumstances, both mitigating and aggravating.

    I have a distrust of absolute claims, sweeping generalizations and false dichotomies.
    There are a bunch of shades of grey (far more than 50) between black and white.

  22. Mark Needham

    Eva, ” are telling people that asylum seekers are illegal.”

    Thing is, there is truth in the statement. So I do not see any reason to disbelieve it.
    Mark Needham

  23. Eva

    @corvus. I would hazard a guess that if in the situation you describe, you knew there was absolutely no chance of being ‘caught’, the ‘harsh consequences’ would not even rate a mention. Studies strongly suggest that people are deterred by the likelihood of being caught, not by the punishment. Naturally you would consider the ‘harsh punishment’ in your risk assessment, but the evidence is there that the foremost consideration (for those who think at all) is if they’ll be caught or not. If a person believes the chance is low, they’ll often take the risk. This is exactly why hidden speed cameras are ‘effective’ at detecting people exceeding the speed limit. People don’t think they’ll be caught, or they just aren’t thinking about it, so exceed the limit. However very few people exceed the limit when there is visible law enforcement. The evidence clearly shows that the introduction of speed cameras has not changed driver behaviour to ‘obey’ speed limits, because the number of people intercepted by actual police officers has not changed. Visible law enforcement slows people down, hidden speed cameras do not. The punishment in both cases is exactly the same – the fine, penalty units etc does not change – what does change is a person’s perception of being caught.

    Failing to check mirrors before merging is a ‘victim-less offence, until that person side-swipes the car in the other lane. Failing to give way at an intersection is a victim-less offence until that person slams into a passing car. Failing to indicate is a victim-less offence until a person veers across the road in front of an on-coming car and crashes. Why use the logic that something is a ‘victim-less offence until …’ to justify harsh punishments for some actions but not others? I get the ‘intent’ and the ‘irresponsible behaviour’ aspect, but surely if harsh punishments were truly a deterrent, people would have their cars crushed on the third instance they failed to indicate?

    If harsh punishments truly deterred, why not make it an offense to drive when tired? Or for not paying attention? Yes, people can be charged for negligence, but surely, if harsh punishments really deterred, all the good, law-abiding and sensible people would make sure they didn’t drive when they were tired and made certain sure they paid attention? A majority of fatalities are sober people who are driving sensibly and are not exceeding the speed limit. If harsh punishments are there to ‘keep people safe’, why not apply to all the other factors in car crashes, like inattention, inexperience, distraction and tiredness? The difference is the ‘intent’ factor: a person who is seen by society to be ‘irresponsible’ is treated differently to those who conform. It’s about societal standards and expectations and harshly punishing people who do not behave in a way that ‘normal’ people expect.

    The whole ‘deterrence’ argument also supposes people are thinking rationally when they act and have the capability to consider consequences. If a person truly believes they are deterred by harsh punishments, the chances are they already have a sense of obligation to society to behave in a certain way and a desire to conform to societies norms in the first place.

    Harsh punishments are not effective at deterring, they are about ‘sending a message’, ‘looking tough’ and punishing people who do not conform to societies norms and expectations.

    I am curious as to why you think my heart is bleeding when my preference is for evidence based policy?

  24. corvus boreus

    Eva,
    Rather than you hazarding a guess as to my thoughts, I will offer them to you honestly.
    In your hypothetical scenario where there was no possibilty of being caught driving whilst fap, in that situation, presuming law had no jurisdiction over my actions, or means of enforcement, I might more likely choose the stupid option, and rationalise away the greatly increased personal and public danger by pledging to drive ‘real slow and careful’. However, in the real world, where there are police to enforce laws, there is a real risk of me being caught.
    Next question then; is it worth the risk? That would depend upon the consequences. If me driving whilst intoxicated lost me a few points and cost me a day’s wages, I might still deem the risk worthwhile. With automatic disqualification, triple figure fines and possible incarceration as the consequence, my answer is “no phuqqen way”. That would be the potentially punitive aspect of law having the desired effect, which is keeping me from committing a crime which could easily hurt others.

    As for your question on car-crushing for repeatedly not indicating and such, serially committing these minor offenses can lose you enough points to have your license disqualified, which if done repeatedly, can lead to being classified as a ‘repeat traffic offender’, which means lengthier suspensions and restrictive conditions upon re-attainment.
    This is not as severe as the punishments for drag racing and fleeing from cops at speed, but mirrors them in carrying escalating consequences for being repeated, or carried out in conjunction with other offenses.
    Littler transgression; littler punishment, bigger bad, bigger slap.
    As for inattentiveness, the primary modern causes of driver distraction (especially mobile phones) are increasingly being covered in traffic legislation. Fatigue is much harder to gauge and monitor; there is no current unit to measure melatonin levels or monitor circadian rhythms, although professional drivers are obliged to log their travels.

    Since you claim a preference for evidential basis, I am glad that you have not repeated the “Punishment does not, and never has, deterred people from engaging in any kind of antisocial or illegal behavior” comment and replaced it with “Studies strongly suggest that people are deterred by the likelihood of being caught, not by the punishment”.
    Was this ‘all, most, some or selected’ studies, who undertook them, how broad were the samples collected and exact the methodologies employed, including noting levels of deviation within the sample, and how definitive were the conclusions reached? ‘Strongly suggestive’ is less authoritative than, say, ‘highly indicative’.
    Regarding studies into psychology and behaviors within human populations, the wider you apply a generalisation, the less the likelihood of it’s accuracy.

    Your question as to why I though your ‘heart bled’ (for dangerous hoons losing their driving privileges, and, in extreme cases, their cars), that would be because you defined their illegal activities as ‘particularly beneficial’, ‘unlikely to harm’, and viewed any punishment as ‘cruel and harsh’.
    The use of wording now carrying association as a popular conservative pejorative was possibly down to personal irritation at you defending the actions of stupid, selfish wankers like the phuqwits who almost killed me, and expressing outrage at the idea of them receiving ‘harsh’ punishment (although I have used ‘my heart bleeds’ and variants thereof for as long as I can remember).
    I think the transgression of roaring down a public street at ridiculous speed and nearly causing my death is worthy of more serious sanction than that imposed for failing to indicate, but I guess we will have agree to disagree on the subject of graduations in severity under law.

  25. Erin

    corvus boreus,
    As I see it, in your example of the cars racing towards you. No actual harm was done, therefore no punishment required.

    I wonder if you could consider my comment above for a moment and find any happy medium between Eva’s thoughts and your own.

    I have a strong belief that fining / jailing / crushing cars etc. for actions that “might” or “could” cause harm, but have not actually caused any harm is extremely unjust.

    There is a big stretch between actual harm, and almost harm. When we consider that driving on an undivided road at the speed limit (60km/h) is only often 50cm away from a head on collision at effectively 120km/h (two cars colliding head on @ 60km/h each).
    And yet, this is considered safe. But that also “might” or ” could” cause harm…

    Billions of road journeys are made every year in this country and the number of deaths is trifiling in comparison.

    Severe financial punishment for being caught for a very arbitrary “little naughty thing” (as I will put it) is a punishment that doesnt fit the crime. Its arbitrary, its got more to do with revenue raising than saftey, and I also think it is a form of pshyhological warfare waged against the public.

    If the government banned wearing of red t shirts on a Tuesday and penalty was $100 fine, would you support that simply becase the government made the law?

    My feeling is that punishment for causing actual harm is too lenient. people who kill others in car crashes can often get a 12 month gaol sentence. So it seems punishments for “little naughty things” (involving no actual harm) are far too severe, and punishment for causing actual harm is too lenient……

  26. Erin

    I’d also like to say that humans make mistakes because we are not perfect. I think these days people are always looking for someone else to blame, and find and blame the person responsible, but unfortunately stuff just happens. No car hoon wants to kill someone, and 99.9% of the time they dont. When something does happen its usually someone high as a kite on drugs or pissed out of their brain (and no law, or deterrent can stop these people from doing what they were going to do, becase humans act in weird random ways and have emotions which cloud judgement) Yet, the governments take these fairly uncommon and random events caused by afforementioned pissed or drugged indiviuals and hold these events up as something which is preventable by creating a law. Creating a law to prevent the unpreventable is madness, but what it does do is reduce civil liberties.

    You will probably now say but what about the civil liberties of someone not to be killed in a car crash by a hoon.
    To that I reitterate, most “hoons” are out to have fun, and not harm anyone else or their precious cars. The accidents are caused by the inebriated who are not thinking straight, and have no concept or care of the law when they commit harm against another person.
    Sometimes stuff just happens. It always has and always will. You cant legislate against stupidity, and heavily drunken / drugged morons.
    Those who ask their government to protect them from something for which they cannot be protected against are as stupid as the governments who make the laws.

    Sadly I honestly feel that restrictive road laws and draconian punishments for “little harmless naughties” are simply a distraction from the major issues of how everything we do on the internet is stored and monitored by the government effectively taking away (what should be) our right to annonimity, and privacy, all in the name of protecting us and making us safe. And a 20 year war in the Middle east which seems to be unwinnable, but sure sucks up a lot of the budget….

    The good old technique of divide an conquor, if they can get the population arguing about the little things they can slip the big things through without objection.

  27. corvus boreus

    Erin,
    You have posted a whole bunch of words.
    Unfortunately, you opened with the statement that hoons stupidly and selfishly breaking the law and putting my life in real and imminent danger (my only salvation was the speed of my own reactions) by drag racing at extreme speeds through a suburban street is not something that warrants any form of punishment.
    This is such a stupidly offensive statement, not just intellectually and ethically, but personally, that I did not bother to read the rest of the lines and lines of drivel that you dribbled.
    Respect for the wishes of the moderators of this site saves you from my instinctual reaction, which would be string of inventive invective and profanity, but suffice to say, if pissing me off is a prize, you hit the jackpot big-time.
    Do not bother to address me again.

  28. corvus boreus

    As a final contribution to the thread, I would prefer to offer an on-topic contribution rather than an overly reactive dismissal of the espousal of absolute anarchic/libertarian values applyied to the use of motor vehicles on public roads.

    What has become of our national character?

    In my life time (<50 yrs), I have watched this local patch of the land that supports and defines us visibly dry and die.
    Large areas of forests have been felled, taking away both top-soil and rain-fall (trees retain both soil and moisture [75%]).
    This has largely been replaced by bare dirt, concrete, bitumen, or elated tin and tiles.
    The attendent erosion and runoff means creeks and coastline are increasingly mired with benthic sludge, compounded by contamination with pesticides, detergents, oils and plastics.
    Numerous native species have been exterminated, replaced with imported biology run feral.
    The number of humans inhabitants has very nearly doubled.
    The screams and toxic fumes of fossil-fuel engines has greatly intensified, and the electro-magnetic buzz has grown ever louder.
    Media values have become increasingly more trivial and selfish, and societal values seem to have followed suit.

    In short, the national character of Australians still, by collective majority, seem to be claiming squatters rights rather than accepting custodial responsibility of this land.

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