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Thursday / July 18.
HomemitwocentsLiving in the Nanny State

Living in the Nanny State

Taking life too seriously? Geoff Lawson says it’s time to lighten up and live up to the fun loving image we’ve promoted overseas.

You just gotta love this country. We take ourselves so seriously, yet send the message to the rest of the world that cries out that we are just fun loving, easy going, sport obsessed, sun worshipping beings.

The term ‘hedonist’ just about sums up what foreigners think of us. They think Australians enjoy one of the most comfortable climates on the planet, and let’s be frank, the weather basically dictates our state of mind – it certainly does mine.

The Great Outdoors

There is nothing quite like a blue sky above, a broad brimmed hat shading the pure sunlight, some warmth on the back and an easy seven iron off a close-mown fairway onto the perfect putting surface to make one feel relaxed and alive. If it happens to be from the 18th and the clubhouse is a lob wedge away with a cool beverage waiting, we may even feel a little bit smug. Hedonism with exercise 12 months of the year – even if you might have to drag the sweater or the windcheater out of the cupboard for a couple of months.

Australians have evolved around an outdoors mentality. Even my study days at UNSW were punctuated with Wednesday afternoons off lectures for golf. I was originally hijacked into this by my fellow optometry students but soon came to understand the benefits of relaxation after three hours of ‘The Principles of Optical Instruments’. No personal fault of Graham Dick, he had some incredibly boring material to work with, but we were never going to turn up after lunch for the remainder of the lecture – when the sun was out, the greensward shouted to our very essence.

The practical implications of the nanny state can have local and national implications.

To be perfectly honest a number of my colleagues did not turn left onto Anzac Parade in the direction of the Coast Golf Course. They simply wandered across campus, over High Street onto the other type of course… Randwick Racecourse… but that is the side of our hedonism which we interpret as the ‘dark side’.

Australians love a punt, the horses, the dogs, the footy, anything really. Leisure time activities can be sedentary as well as active. I blame the former on our post 1788 forebears, the ones who arrived by sea after expulsion from the grimy, damp and cold northern hemisphere. But that was a long time ago.

In the 21st century Australians are just kidding themselves.

Nanny State Implications

The recent big tobacco campaigns accusing ‘us’ – not sure exactly who the ‘us’ is – this fine nation of being a ‘nanny state’ has some truth to it. Not that it’s a bad thing to at least attempt to limit lung cancer deaths by several hundred thousand, but the sheer amount of regulation and red tape that not only ensures our safety from smoking and gambling irresponsibly but also from driving outside the highway code, eating too many fatty calories (no letters pedantic nutritionist please, you know what I mean) and, in general just being ‘politically correct’ is stultifying. We have become
the antithesis of our modern origins.

The practical implications of the nanny state can have local and national implications.

The recent bans on live cattle exports to Indonesia may have been well intentioned for some of the cattle, but the producers of that product have had their hard earned livelihood torn from under their wide but fragile stance by the tiny minority city dwellers. Those city dwellers do not understand the battles waged against flood, drought and pestilence, or care if businesses go broke or families sell their properties and add yet another percentage point to our urban dwelling figures. The government, staggering political animal that it is, jerked a knee and offered trifling compensation with only a short-term popularity poll in mind. Bad policy from the nannies at the very least, and the end of family dynasties at the worst.

Australian children have reached the UN competition table’s top three in obesity, are we going for the gold?…. Refer to my opening remarks about sunshine and proportional physical activity… what has happened??? Of course video games and electronic indoctrination is a part of this, but the nanny state plays its role. You can’t play an organised sport without registering for multiple government schemes. It costs money to register, insurances must be carried out, national schemes, local ground hire facilities must be inspected, pot holes photographed, coaches vetted, parents inoculated against showing any passion or sense of competition.

Not on Our Turf

In my local park, a resident complained when an under eight football team asked the council to put up some (modest) lights for training. It would mean dog walking times were cut down by two hours a week!!! Ergo the dogs were more important than the humans.

The request for an amenities block, so you don’t have to pee behind the eucalypts, was belted around the ears and the requester sent for counselling. Kids exercising, working as a team, getting used to team frameworks, responsibility to mothers, for others, having fun, and discipline that will effect their entire lives… not on our piece of turf! Just as the cattle were more important than the farmers, the self-interest and selfishness of the adults was deemed way more important than the future Australians out of classroom education.

While big tobacco spends its advertising budgets on plain paper attacks there is one other media campaign that comes from the antipode. Organ donation is a fundamental right. Your own bodily possessions, internal or external can, at your accession, be given up for other lives. But wait, can they be given? Not without someone else’s permission.

Precious previously loved corneas are going to waste because donors’ relatives are either not in the loop or they don’t agree with the deceased’s bequest! Who thought this one up? It’s the nanny state at its worst! The process used to be ‘tick a box’ on your driver’s license and the another human can benefit, how
SIMPLE is that. Not any more.

I do some work for the David Hookes Foundation, an organisation that promotes organ donation, formed after the death of a former colleague and adversary on the cricket field who died of brain injury when in otherwise perfect health. I support this wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. It is the archetypal ‘good cause’. Now lives are being put at risk thanks to the nannies.

I love this country but we are taking ourselves way too seriously. Time to lighten up and behave like the people the rest of the world think we are.