A letter to the Queensland premier

Ms. Anna Bligh MP.
The following comment will preface the context of this letter, which i hope you will take very seriously.  While i am certain that this will not be the only letter of this kind that you have received lately (and will certainly see more of) i believe i speak for a massive amount of people regarding the issue i am addressing. This is a comment made on a page addressed to you:

– Glass and glasses exist for a particular reason, and that is because the style, construct and quality of the vessel from which you drink – be it wine, a beer, a cocktail or anything at all – has a great effect on the taste, texture and all other characteristics of the drink you are consuming. When you are at home and having a tipple, do you use plastic to be safe? Or do you use your favourite Riedel wine glass, in order to enhance the bouquet of your Beaujolais?

Eliminate the aspects from clubs that make them “high risk” – or enforce measures for venues to monitor them – dont dilute the experience that the public are having at these venues, and further kill the ever-struggling bar and club industry in Brisbane!!

Your plastic cup idea in high risk venues is aiming to implement an ignorant plan that will see Brisbane’s entertainment districts suffer.  While the middle class – detatched and distant from the scene that they are despising – are singing the praises of a government that is “finally listening”, obviously there is outcry amongst those who see a different despair for a city that has long lived in the minnows of the capitals of southern states – and undeservedly so.

What is a “high risk” venue anyway?  Is it something just as ambiguous and wide-ranging as a “terrorist” in the US’s Patriot Act?

Furthermore, your plan is yet another example of government attempting to create the impression that you are acting on behalf of your people, by applying a metaphoric, poor quality band-aid, to a gaping wound, in order to stem the flow of blood from a potentially crippling injury.  Insisting that the venues “responsible” for the violence incur the subsequent costs (by forfeiting business with shorter operating hours, or in the case of your proposal, by paying for 1000’s of various plastic cups a week to stock their venues with) is a weak and transparent attempt by you and your government to pass the buck, find scapegoats and assure voters and the police (or fool them into thinking) that you are combating the problem.

I wonder how many of these voters you are trying to win favour with have actually had direct experience with one of these alcohol fuelled violent outbursts you are alluding to?  And conversely, how many of them are standing by, nodding their heads in self-righteous agreement with your senselessly strangulatory policies?

I trust they will be thinking little of the consequences of disgruntled revellers pouring streetwards at 2am, wondering where to go?  – Or of the prohibitive costs of supplying plastic cups, and then subsequently disposing of them. How about the ecological cost of all the needless waste that will be created in these venues?

Need I mention the license holders, venue owners, security staff, alcohol sales reps, wine makers, wine growers, cab drivers, promotional teams, employers, employees, dj’s, entertainers, cleaners and others also, who will be at a loss to cope with the effective pay cut that they will all be enduring, with regard to the 2am close proposals, and the reduced business that plastic cups in clubs and bars will herald.  Add all this together, and the downward spiral is initiated: by you, your peers, the police and its beauracracy.

Most of all, have you any idea the liftetime that plastic lasts on our earth, and the costs the environment will pay?  In his book ‘The world without us’, Alan Weisman, investigating the mark we would leave behind, and how the earth would cope, were we to disappear from existence, quotes researchers who estimate that the world’s oceans harbour around 3 million tonnes of plastic. – And that is only an accumulation of 50 years of plastic’s existence! Further to this, Weisman also noted that “the real reason the world’s landfills aren’t overflowing with plastics” is because “most of it ends up in an ocean-fill” amazingly resistant to degradation, and washed or blown into our waterways and eventually out to sea, where salt and cool temperatures make them more resistant to degradation, and algaes protect them from the sun – virtually forever, or at least many millennia after we will cease to exist, and earth’s oceans and ecologies continue to suffer.

Even biodegradable plastics end up in minute particles in the ocean that plankton – feeding much of the worlds oceanic ecology – and microscopic bacteria, still haven’t evolved sufficiently enough, in order to break them down.  Insisting that we contribute still more plastics to a world already beginning to struggle with it (in the very short time that is has existed) is irresponsible, to say the least.  (If you doubt this point, consult chapter 9 – Polymers are forever – of Weisman’s book)

“Plastic is still plastic” he continues, and “the material still remains a polymer.”  He also notes that plastic is not biodegradable in any practical time scale.  “There is no mechanism in the marine environment to biodegrade that long a molecule.”  And that’s not to mention all the plastic still stuck on the land.  – I think it is worth repeating how irresponsible and thoughtless your idea is.

Real commitments on your part would involve funding increased training schedules for license holders, owners and managers, as well as strict training for staff in clubs (on responsible service of alcohol, and foreseeing, noticing, controlling and restricting potential troublemakers) – which includes those behind the bar, as well as security staff stationed inside venues, and at their doors where increasingly, troublesome revellers are being ushered in, by poorly trained, ignorant and unintelligent security staff, without a view to the damage that these affected people could go on to cause.  Real commitments would take into account all factors in the equation – including tourism, entertainment and culture, promoting social interaction, supporting and attracting business and enterprise and anticipating the effects that a loss of employment hours will have on a city’s young, who one day (with government support or not) hope to go on to be successful – not just the votes of the conservative middle classes.  Your solution is a massive cop-out that will see discerning customers staying at home, and the entertainment industry in Brisbane suffering a slow, and painful death, with little left to be proud of in what has so often been a burgeoning and then suffocated scene.
Real commitments would involve precious time and money, which you are effectively saying, you are not willing to commit.

One thought on “A letter to the Queensland premier

  1. Ivy Pool, considered a hot spot in Sydney has plastic cups! (so no glass smashes in the pool). I have no problem drinking out of the plastic and it’s quite trendy even. If these venues get more creative with their cups instead of using plastic cups from woolies, I think it would be okay, even if it saves one person from losing their face.

    In saying that though, bringing plastic cups into bars doesn’t fix the problem of alcohol related violence. Shutting bars early or stopping staff from serving drinks at certain times won’t help either. If people want to drink, they will find a way to drink. The State and Federal Governments should look into what is making people drink and change community attitudes. I’m sick of seeing people glorifying their massive alcohol intake from the night before.

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