Public ser­vants drunk on power

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE -

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

bars ...

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.

salaries

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GOOD SPORT: LNP MP An­drew Lam­ing does it on his head.

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