Public servants drunk on power
WHEN significant affairs of state seem overwhelming, it is comforting to know the Defence Department bureaucracy tackles issues of great moment.
When the F35 tactical joint fighter seems to be shaping as a lemon, when MRH90 helicopters are proving worryingly fragile in anything stronger than a mild breeze, when airlift command struggles to keep more than a few C130 J- models online at any moment, the brains trust is preoccupied with decisions threatening the ADF’s whole moral fabric.
Whether to have a single rather than multiple lanyards.
What booze prices should be charged in the ADF canteens and messes?
Apparently cheap alcohol fuelled violence in such facilities has become such an issue the brains trust has decided to tackle it head- on and increase prices to match those in “equivalent” civilian venues.
These opulent defence gin palaces, equivalents of the great casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, have long attracted ADF personnel to fritter away their meagre residual cash on cheap booze, world class entertainment, gambling and fine dining.
Actually, that may depend on your definition of gambling, the occasional chook raffle hardly being the equivalent of rows of slot machines and baccarat tables.
And a lukewarm stale pie hardly rates a Michelin star, even with generous lashings of sauce.
with Ross Eastgate is a military historian, writer and journalist specialising in defence. A graduate of Duntroon and the Army Command and Staff College, he has served in the
Middle East, PNG and East Timor.
What messes and canteens offer are safe and convenient on- base locations so living- in members do not risk driving off- base, and more worryingly home, if they want to enjoy some socialising accompanied by a drink.
They can also unwind beyond the public gaze, with such harmless entertainments as keeping live ferrets in their pockets or playing dead ants.
Most, if not all, defence canteens and messes, could benefit from a facelift and a little inventive management to make them more attractive than they currently are.
By imposing punitive con-
Laming may also enjoy subsidised booze in exclusive members- only parliamentary
trols on alcohol prices, defence headquarters brains trust is effectively imposing prohibition, which history has always proved is a brilliantly successful social strategy.
Indeed prohibition has been a continually troublesome theme in ADF discipline.
Generations of trainees including Duntroon cadets were forbidden alcohol, restrictions later enforced by senior officers on the college staff who had themselves thwarted by the same rules.
Still, rules are for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools, particularly when they have been devised by fools.
On ABC Brisbane radio last week, federal LNP Member for Bowman Andrew Laming defended how parliamentarians use their travel allowances when in Canberra.
Ophthalmologist Dr Laming is among those many parliamentarians who have purchased Canberra investment properties as convenient local residences paid for by their generous TA.
“It’s simply part of our salary, therefore we can use it as we wish,” Laming told the ABC listeners.
Try telling that to a court martial.
Laming may also enjoy subsidised booze in exclusive members- only parliamentary bars, as available to Australian politicians in all of the jurisdictions.
Part of their doubt.
A second generation politician, Dr Laming has another significant claim to fame.
He can drink a beer while standing on his head.
Though, one suspects, only when the price is right.
GOOD SPORT: LNP MP Andrew Laming does it on his head.