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Beer’s image is our responsibility

April 15, 2016
By
Pete Mitcham

Pete Mitcham

With alcohol continually copping the blame for many societal problems, all beer industry stakeholders must ensured their beloved beverage is portrayed in the best light possible, writes Pete Mitcham.

It’s been brewing – pardon the pun – for many years now and it’s a news story that seems to pop up in the mainstream media at regular intervals. But this morning, it had me growling at my radio as if I were a grumpy old man. Don’t go there. Mrs Pilsner is already convinced of it.

A liquor retailer wants to build a new outlet in an outer suburb of Melbourne which has been described by local council, Victoria Police and State Government ministers as ‘a hotspot for family violence’. As such, these bodies have called for a ban on the latest application to build a Dan Murphy’s store in Cranbourne East.

As is often the case, the selling of beer, wine and spirits is seen as the key cause of the problem and its ultimate destruction the solution. Now, I’m no expert on domestic violence, but isn’t that trivialising what is apparently a growing social malaise in modern society? Family violence is a curse and an unacceptable stain on any civilised community. I am unable to denounce more vehemently, the concept of someone using violence against children or partners.

But how does building a Dan Murphy’s outlet in Cranbourne East change the situation? For better or for worse? It would seem that this new store – which will take the number of licensed outlets in the immediate area to 71 – is the straw which will break the camel’s back. Bullshit.

Sam Aziz, the Mayor of the City of Casey this morning let forth a babble of well-practiced and completely naïve dribble, claiming the new store is “adding fuel to the fire” and “providing more options for people to buy alcohol and then commit violence”. I’m not sure who should be more offended; those selling alcohol, those buying alcohol or those perpetrating violence who should be offended that their sociopathy is akin to Milton the Monster drinking six drops of the essence of terror?

Mr Mayor, the peasants of your fine Borough already have 70 outlets at which to exercise the opportunity to buy alcohol. You have 300,000 such inhabitants in the City of Casey. In your own words; “we already live in an area with the highest level of family violence in the state”. I’m not convinced that the ability to buy a glass of wine at the café, to share a beer with workmates at the pub or the chance to take home a nice six-pack of something new and different is in any way linked to family violence.

Violence of any sort is the result of a multitude of factors, not the least of which is that you are a dickhead. Impulse control, genetic factors, a feeling of being hard-done by and a thousand other things can combine to make a dickhead do something stupid. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am in no way removing alcohol abuse as a major factor in violence – but it will usually only remove some element of the restraint required to not commit violence. It WILL NOT cause you to commit violence.

If the Mayor, and the Minister for Liquor Control, Jane Garret are really fair dinkum about this issue then they will pass legislation to take back the other 70 licences currently operating in the region. If they really believe that alcohol retailing is the cause of their massive family violence issue then this should do the trick overnight. Or…they could take some actual and serious action against those who are doing the violence. Just saying.

But before I sign off, it does also highlight our collective responsibility to our own beer community and the wider suburban community to see that alcohol is viewed as a normal and natural part of civilised society. When we post status updates about drunken nights out and tweet about the QUANTITY of beer we put away the night before we perpetuate the falsehoods that many around us have about the evils of alcohol. We can all make a difference to the way in which beer is viewed. As a famous modern day philosopher put it; “Stupid is as stupid does.”

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