Herald Sun



WE Aus­tralians are a bad-man­nered lot. And fem­i­nism is partly to blame. Re­cently Bri­tish writer Paul Th­er­oux pub­lished 31 rules for in­ter­na­tional travel.

Un­for­tu­nately for us, Th­er­oux’s Rule 8 stated that: “The Aus­tralian Book of Eti­quette is a very slim vol­ume.”

There are three main ar­eas in which our man­ners have de­clined. First, very few peo­ple seated on public trans­port stand up for the el­derly, the in­firm or the preg­nant.

Per­haps ob­ses­sive use of tech­nol­ogy in the form of mo­biles, head­phones and so­cial media is to blame.

But I think we use this as an ex­cuse for ba­sic rudeness. Our mod­ern-day sense of en­ti­tle­ment states: “I have paid for a ticket. There­fore I de­serve a seat, ir­re­spec­tive of who else is forced to stand.”

Sec­ond, our abil­ity to use cut­lery in the cor­rect fash­ion is clearly on the wane. Too many Aus­tralians have adopted the Amer­i­can habit of chop­ping up their food first, then eat­ing it with a fork used like a spoon.

What­ever hap­pened to us­ing a knife and fork to­gether?

Fi­nally, fewer and fewer men bother to hold doors open for women. That might be due to self­cen­tred rudeness, but fem­i­nism is also at fault. A younger woman I know reck­ons such door open­ing is a form of “gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion”. To her any man who per­forms this act, once seen as ba­sic good man­ners, is en­gag­ing in the sub­ju­ga­tion of fe­males.

In the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion and pay, gen­der equal­ity is un­doubt­edly a good thing.

But must it come at the ex­pense of so­cial eti­quette?

I don’t pre­tend to pos­sess all the an­swers to CO2 re­duc­tion. Per­haps, as the Greens of­ten tell us, our com­par­a­tively lux­u­ri­ous liv­ing stan­dards (eg, elec­tric lights on de­mand 24 hours a day, seven days a week) are un­sus­tain­able.

What I ob­ject to, how­ever, is the ridicu­lous idea that we can wean our­selves off cheap coal with­out in­cur­ring con­sid­er­able dis­com­fort in the process. If the Car­bon Tax Mk2 is in­deed back on the agenda, Bill Shorten should have the guts to say who will suf­fer.

If he pre­tends oth­er­wise, he’s ly­ing — and we all know that politi­cians who lie rarely re­ceive a sec­ond chance at the bal­lot box.

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