Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Closing Time

Being the avid barfly that I am (no, that is not an oxymoron), I find it interesting that just as the "Howard mandate" presses in on civil society from all sides, the licencing hours in NSW have been drastically relaxed. An Aussie version of bread and circuses? Surely you would have to be a little addled to believe the Howard Ministry has really thought through its "beige revolution". The sedition clause in the new anti-terrorism bill is a truly reckless piece of legislation, handing power to the same mindless drones responsible for the ordeals of Ms Rau, Alvarez et al. And from where I sit (on a pay cheque that barely covers the fuel bill down the mountain), the new IR laws place far too much emphasis on qualities not exactly surfeit in the corporate world. I'm talking about empathy, largesse, dignity, honour, all words that clang like Victorian pot-boilers in this shiny happy world willed into existence (ironically enough) by a bunch of men and women probably more at home in Northanger Abbey than the hushed and bristling streets of Howard's End.

All I can urge myself and others to do is to test the new laws, poke and prod at these weasel words transparency flexibility and see whether or not they bite. I figure it's like Pascal's gambit. Either way this government has shown its true colours and who it really represents. All it will take then is for the country to do the same. Poets and writers should all feel revitalised rather than frightened or dispirited. I know I do, and hey, the pubs are open 24/7!

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