Customs and Values
Shouts and rounds
The fear of inferiority
Odd facts of Australia
Important social rules
A time to be sombre and to not
Siding with the loser
Mogrels, wogs, andlarrikins
Dealing with extremists
Ugg and more
Landscape and Identity
Creativity in the kitchen
The art of science
Once were popular
Pushing the boundaries
Test of character
are not a nation of snobs like the English or of extravagant boasters like the
Americans or of reckless profligates like the French, they are simply a nation
of drunkards." Marcus Clark (1)
used to be one of the world's great drinking nations. It is believed that during
the Convict era, when rum was used as currency, the colony's inhabitants drank
more alcohol per capita that any other time in human history. The high rate of consumption was understandable considering that the first fleet brought enough food for two years and enough grog for four.
realising the dangers of a lone man drinking themselves into oblivion, it became
poor form to drink by oneself. As one observer wrote in 1887:
" All through Australia, in every class, it is not considered good form for
a man to drink by himself. Very few even of the most hopeless drunkards ever do
so. The consequence is, that when a man feels inclined to drink, he immediately
looks out for someone to drink with...At whatever hour of the day a mans meets
another whom he has not seen for say twelve hours, etiquette requires that he
shall incontinently invite him to come and drink. This is a custom that pervades
every class in the colony, and cannot be departed from without something more
than a breach of good manners." Finch Hatton 1887
a society descended from criminals, dubious police officers, corrupt officials
and cockney immigrants was going to have a fair share of sly characters looking
out for their own self interest. Social alcohol consumption, or "shouting"
probably became a type of character test. The shout is a pretence of a gift, but
in reality, it is more of a loan. If an individual has a drink bought for them,
and fails to reciprocate, it reveals a dodgy character looking out for themselves. (*see shouting etiquette below.)
have often been unable to appreciate the social side of the shout. As one wowser
complained in 1887 :
rather its meaning, is peculiarly Australian. The shortest and most comprehensive
definition of "shouting" is to pay for the drink drunk by others. Drunkenness
is the vice of which "shouting" is a parasite. No other Australian vice has so
large a vocabulary. "
Ironically, the practice of shouting probably contributed to Australia not developing the hard liquor drinking cultures that prevail in Russia, South America and East Asia, where extreme drunkardness and death are common. Generally speaking, Australians are more prone to drink wine and beer, as well as have conversations while drinking. Shouting encourages conversation because it increases the likelihood of one person slowing down out of concern for money being spent or because they want to chat about something. As long as one person has a desire to slow down, the rate of the entire shouting group can be slowed. All they need to do is suggest beer instead of a spirit or keep the conversation flowing. On the other hand, in Asia, drinkers will just down one spirit after the next as they try to impress each other by showing they are strong drinkers. Because the drinks may be paid for by the boss or the richest member of the party, there isn’t that concern about slowing down the rate of drinking to save money. Furthermore, because conversation is less important, drinking becomes the sole focus on the night out.
As well as having an important social role in the lives of ordinary Australians, alcohol has also have an important role amongst politicians. Prior to Federation
in 1900, a great deal of politicising was underway in regards to who would be
the Australia's first Prime Minister. It is no coincidence that the candidate
that emerged was an alcoholic. Affectionately known as "Toby Tosspot"
due to his fondness for a drink, Edmond Barton's qualifications for the
job were noted by his biographer who wrote:
public man who shouldered these responsibilities needed an ample appetite and
a good capacity for alcohol. Barton was able to do justice to all these forms
Just as the
man who first led a federated Australia was an alcoholic, it is also quite fitting
that Bob Hawke, the Prime Minister who changed Australia's national anthem
from God save the Queen, was also renowned for his fondness for grog.
So renowned in fact that he was immortalised in the Guinness Book of Records
for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.
love affair with alcohol endured right up to the 70s when its per capita beer
consumption was up with the great boozing nations of Ireland and Germany. Since
then, alcohol consumption has been diminishing and now Australia is a teetotaller
by world standards. It is generally believed that alcohol consumption dropped as a result of increased taxes making drinking less affordable. The main problem with the theory is that the general trend has been towards more expensive alcohol, which would suggest shortage of funds has not been the consideration. Basically, Australians are buying more boutique beers than in the 70s and are also buying much more high-priced wine. Quality is now more important than quantity.
Even though Australians
are drinking far less than in the past, there is a lionising of alcohol consumption
that perhaps isn't seen in other countries. Furthermore, alcohol still plays
a very important role in the social fabric of Australian society. University students
often discuss their ideas at the pub after lectures, and boozing is often part of
post-match celebrations of football teams. Most importantly, the shout is still
the mainstay of the Australian pub. It is a custom that allows an outsider to
be inducted into the social group and treated as if they are of equal status -
irrespective of their socio-economic, political or national background. This social aspect of shouting ensures will probably ensure that alcohol remains part of Australian life, but also that consumption is somewhat restrained by world standards. This may ensure a continuation of alcohol consumption being celebrated despite the fact that relatively little alcohol is actually being consumed.
While alcoholism is a relatively rare feature of Australian life, many Aboriginal communities still suffer severe alcohol problems. These problems can be directly attributed to wowsers wanting to ban alcohol in Australia, but only succeeding in having it banned for Aborigines. Obviously politicians weren’t keen on a complete ban because that would mean they would have to go without a drink as well, but banning whites from selling to blacks seemed like a noble way to spare Aborigines the vices of white society, and win a few votes in the process.
Although the ban allowed wowsers to feel that they were helping Aborigines, it forced Aboriginal drinking underground. Instead of drinking in a pub where the custom of the round could slow drinking out of financial or social considerations, Aborigines would get their hands on cheap booze and head to a park to drink it. Here young children could access booze that they couldn’t get in the pub, and individuals could drink until they passed out. Worst of all, drinking in the park lacked the protection of the kind of security seen in the pub so if one drunk became violent, it was easy for the violence to spread.
Being forced to buy illegally also might have encouraged Aborigines to buy booze that gave them the maximum bang for their buck and which was easiest to carry. This tended to be spirits or cask wine. Unfortunately, spirits and cash wine tends to wreck much more havoc than beer (which moderates drinking by bloating the drinker.)
When the sale of alcohol to Aborigines eventually became legal, separatism was a continuing legacy of the past ban. The above photos show white and black Australians drinking on opposite sides of the street. Aborigines bought alcohol out of a window at the back of the bar called the “dog box”, a process of buying that originated when selling booze to Aborigines was illegal.
Because the ban caused the cultures of alcohol consumption to develop in different ways, it was not always easy to reconcile them in the front of the bar when the supply of alcohol to Aborigines became legal. Aside from encouraging seperatism, another legacy of the ban was the choice of alcohol. Aborigines often gravitated towards cask wine or spirits because these were easiest to carry and offered maximum bang for the buck. Non-Aborigines went for the beers commonly bought in a shout.
etiquette of a round (shout)
tribal societies in which gift giving is economically important, there may be
exchange of gift giving of identical (or useless) gifts which serve to maintain
the relationship between donors. In Australia, the ritual of the round, known
virtually to all adult members of society has some parrallel functions. It symbolise
entry to a group (and, for that matter, makes pointed an exclusion). It binds
a group together." National Times January 1978
- Never accept a beer if you do not intend to shout on that evening. Shouting
"next time" is not acceptable no matter how much interest is involved.
- Reciprocal - Even worse than the previous
rule is accepting beers from the drinking party and then just buying one for yourself
when it is your turn.
- Consistency - Changing drinks on people during a shout is considered poor form. I.e., shouting
everyone VBs then asking for a "boutique" beer on the return leg.
- Accountability - Knocking over someone else's
beer will only be tolerated if there is a full replacement on the table. In some
mining communities, the spilling of ones beer requires the guilty party to receive
a punch in the arm from all other members of the party which could be up to 60
- No matter how much money is earned by each of the party members, or where their
money came from, the same shouting rules apply.
will - The order of the round is determined by each individual volunteering
that it is his/her shout. Fellow members should not never have to remind an individual
of their obligations to the group. They will only do so in the event of a breach.
- From time to time an individual may wish to stop getting drunk. Ideally, they
should wait till the completion of every group member's rounds before abstaining
from future rounds. If it is essential that they abstain mid-round, they should
request a non-alcoholic beverage. This ensures that the first volunteer is not
punished for putting their hand up first. It ensures group equality and it also
ensures that the person buying the next round does not feel like a bludger by
being remiss in their obligations.
neutral- Should a women be given a drink that has been purchased in the course
of buying a round, she is subsequently part of the round. All the previous rules
thus apply. A round can consist of only two people.
Activity 1 - Campaign to help diadvantaged MPs overcome their alcohol addictions
Discuss: What to do about problem drinking amongst politicians?
Over the last century, politicians have developed numerous strategies to counter problem drinking in Aboriginal communities and amongst young people. Meanwhile, binge drinking has been rife in Parliament House. For example, Australia’s first prime minister, Edmond Barton, was known as Toby Tosspot" due to his fondness for a drink. Another Prime Minister John Gorton, inspired the euphemism "Gorton's Flu" in reference to a hang over. Still another, Bob Hawke, held an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Still another, Kevin Rudd, got drunk and visited a strip club with journalists. As a fundamentalist Christian that often gave press conferences on Church steps, it was indeed an example of the demon drink leading him astray. Aside from the leaders, countless politicians have been renowned for their long lunches, and their use of grog to pass the time. More recently, it was alleged that Peter Slipper, the former Speaker of the House (deemed to be the most moral position in parliament) frequently passed out in Parliament House from drinking red wine. On one occasion, he was thrown out of a bar for being drunk and on another, he was so drunk that he was filmed urinating out a window.
Assess whether the following strategies would be effective in countering problem drinking amongst politicians
- Quarantining the expense accounts of MPs so that they can't be used to purchase grog
- Quarantining the salaries of MPs so that they can't be used to purchase grog
- A complete ban on the "rivers of grog" that flow into Parliament House
- Prosecution of any liquor licence owner that supplies grog to politicians
- A tax on alcohol supplied to Parliament House
- Creating a Problem Drinker Register amongst MPs and banning the supply of alcohol to these MPs
- Running a media campaign in Australia's major newspapers that "raises awareness" othe struggles that politicians have with alcohol
- Running an education campaign targeted at MPs that raises awareness about the dangers of alcohol
- Printing pamphlets for MPs, which have the slogan, "Say No to grog."
Activity 2 - Controlling problem drinking through tax
- Rank the following drinks it terms of risk of getting blind drunk: beer, cask wine, premium wine, vodka, whiskey, Baracadi Breezer, Dark & Stormy, cider, Passion Pop
- Rank the following in terms of safe places to drink: park, pub, nightclub, house, bushland, under a bridge, beach, alone, with friends
- Design a tax on alcoholic drinks that encourages consumers to purchase alcohol that is less likely to cause them to get blind drunk
- Design a tax on alcohol that encourages people to drink is safe environments if they do want to get blind drunk
- * For ideas, read the information below:
Products that are considered vices have a way of attracting taxes, which are often implemented in ways that raise lots of money for government but do very little to reduce the severity of the problem. Arguably, alcohol is the classic example. In 2008, the Federal Government of Australia made a great deal of noise about its plan to increase the tax on alcopops (pre-mixed drinks.) Through the media and in a very public way, the government declared that alcopops were designed to appeal to young people and therefore a higher tax was warranted.
Once implemented, the Government's tax increased the retail prices of alcopops by 25 per cent. This corresponded with a 30 per cent drop in sales of alcopops in the 2008-09 financial year. Overall sales of alcohol remained constant.
In response to Government press that stated the drop in sales of alcopops was good news, Steve Riden, a spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Industry Council, said,
“I challenge anyone to the binge drinking culture of Australia has improved in the past two years since the tax came in. Anyone who claims it has worked because alcopop consumption has gone down depends on there being a magical group of young people who will only drink alcopops and nothing else.” (ABC News Online 27th May 2010)
Arguably, the Government made a big deal out of its alcopop's tax because the media campaign helped it justify a wider tax on alcohol. Firstly, targeting "young people" for problem drinking is a bit like targeting Aborigines in that it is very "moral" for people who are not young or Aboriginal. By having a tax associated with a "moral cause", the whole image of an alcohol tax becomes more moral. Secondly, a case study showing that taxes on alcopops worked would make it easier to later justify the value of all alcohol taxes as being effective. In turn, this makes it politically easier to increase the taxes. Targeting young people with a tax was likely to produce a drop in sales of their desired drink because young people had less money and would therefore be more price sensitive. In sum, the alcopop's tax ticked the moral box and ticked the effective box which the government needed to justify taxation.
While sales of alcopops fell from the tax, potentially many negative side effects may have resulted. If getting drunk was the aim, instead of young people spending $15 on a six-pack of alcopops, which contained around six standard drinks, they may have spent spend $3 on a bottle of wine, which had a similar amount of standard drinks. The drinker may ended up drinking more because they were not going to be bloated by the mixer. Alternatively, they may have used their savings to buy 5 bottles of wine.
An alternative strategy if they really wanted to have a mixed drink would have been to spend $30 on a bottle of spirits and $5 on a mixer. This would have given them around 25 standard drinks at their disposal. Again the consequence may have been to drink more because more alcohol was at their disposal. Furthermore, by mixing the drinks themselves, they would have been more likely to make a few doubles or triples – especially after the first couple of drinks.
Aside from encouraging young people to make more riskier choices in their alcohol purchases, the tax on alcopops may have encouraged them to make riskier choices when deciding where to drink. The young people may have decided that they had enough money to purchase alcopops from the liquor store, but not enough to purchase from the pub. Consequently, they binged before going to the pub or went to the park instead of the pub on a night out. This would have been problematic because the pub is the safest place for young people to drink. Specifically, if they get too drunk, bar staff will stop serving them. If someone gets violent, security will evict them. Finally, the mix of ages will ensure that there are older people encouraging the younger people about more responsible drinking etiquettes.
Contrasted to the pub, 16-20 year-olds drinking in a park really can be a recipe for disaster. If a government tax encourages such drinking then there is nothing for a government to be “moral” about.
Activity 3 - Media Advocacy to Control Binge Drinking
Government Policy towards Aborigines is distributed through the media and is in turn shaped by the media. A good example of this occurring was the issue of grog bans in Aboriginal communities. In 2013, the Liberal Premiers of Northern Territory and Queensland started removing restrictions on alcohol in Aboriginal communities. According to Queensland premier Campbell Newman, the restrictions were discriminatory because they only targeted Aborigines despite alcohol abuse being a national problem. Federal Labor PM Julia Gillard responded by saying that "rivers of grog" would again flow into the communities and that she warned that she might intervene.
Aside from reflecting differences in the attitudes towards Aborigines, the comments of each leader reflected ideological differences in regards to how to solve social problems. One ideological viewpoint advocated the education of people with a problem. The other advocated some kind of top-down policy or law that would solve it.
Those who advocate top-down policy to solve problems typically use a campaign strategy known as Media Advocacy to implement their agendas. This strategy seeks to raise the volume of voices wanting change in order to pressure policy makers to adopt the plan. When it is the policy makers that actually initiate the campaign, the aim is to amplify the voices in support of the policy.
In sum, Media Advocacy places an emphasis on:
- Linking the problem to inequalities in society rather than flaws in the individual
- Changing public policy rather than personal behaviour
- Focussing on policy makers rather than those who have a problem
- Working with groups to increase participation and amplifying their voices
- Having a goal of reducing the power gap rather than filling the information gap
In the case of alcohol restrictions in Aboriginal communities, press releases were obviously delivered to various media outlets by the two political parties. These were subsequently tinkered with in a way that revealed some of the ideological viewpoints of the media outlet. Below are brief summaries of three articles dealing with the issue by Australia's three main media outlets (News Ltd, Fairfax, ABC)
War brewing over indigenous alcohol bans
The Australian (News Ltd)
February 06, 2013
Had common material that quoted Campbell Newman, Newman’s Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Glen Elmes, and Julia Gillard but also quoted Indigenous Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey saying:
"The prime minister needs to get a hold of herself"
"The current closing of the gap strategy at the moment is not closing anybody's gap, let alone the blackfellas in this country.
"All it does is create a big Aboriginal industry, a big gravy train that everyone else rides on, and wastes taxpayers' money on Aboriginal people with no results to it."
Alcohol bans discriminatory: Newman
Brisbane Times (Fairfax)
February 6, 2013
Had common material that quoted Campbell Newman, Newman’s Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Glen Elmes, and Julia Gillard but had a view of indigenous academic Professor Marcia Langton saying that easing of the bans would threaten lives, especially those of women and children.
Rivers of grog starting to flow again: Gillard
By chief political correspondent Simon Cullen (ABC - state media)
Wed Feb 6, 2013
Did not quote Newman, did not quote any indigenous people and did not provide any perspectives in support of easing restrictions. Quoted Gillard saying,
“we're hearing worrying reports about the rise in admissions in the emergency department at Alice Springs Hospital due to alcohol-related accidents and abuse”
"The Government will take action in response to any irresponsible policy changes that threaten to forfeit our hard-won gains."
Quoted opposition leader Tony Abbott saying, "I share the Prime Minister's concern about actions in the Northern Territory in respect of the Banned Drinkers Register,"
Quoted, Dr John Boffa from the People's Alcohol Action Coalition in Alice Springs, who described the removal of the register as a "travesty"
- Based on the three articles, which of the three media outlets made the least effort to consider both sides?
- The Fairfax article made an attempt to frame the removal of restrictions as an issue of power by saying that women and children would suffer. How did framing the issue in gender terms make it more of an issue of power? Based on patterns of alcohol abuse in non-Aboriginal society, do you think it is only Aboriginal men that abuse alcohol in Aboriginal communities?
- Do any of the articles provide information to members of the public about how they can change their drinking cultures?
- In the three articles, what groups have had their voices amplified in the campaign to act on binge drinking? Which groups have had their voices silenced?
- If you had a campaign to ban something or to impose some kind of restriction on a group, which media outlet do you think would be governed by an ideology that would be most receptive to your campaign?
- hat is your view on using prohibition to solve problem drinking in Aboriginal communities?
- What is your view on prohibition to solve problem drinking in non-Aboriginal communities?
Activity 4 – World drinking cultures
Study some drinking cultures from around the world.
- Who pays for the booze?
- What type of booze is drunk?
- What level of drunkenness is desired?
- What is the rate of consumption?
Activity 5 – Etiquette
Create a drinking etiquette guide detailing
- Who should buy the booze
- What should happen if booze is spilt
- The limit of drunkenness before drinking should stop
- The relationship between drinkers (e.g, same drinks same pace?)
Activity 6 - Cans of confidence
The picture below deals with the ironic act of increasing one's confidence by reducing the capability of one’s brain. In a sense, it is by consuming the self. Think of some alternative ways to build self confidence so that drinking becomes less important.
None of the men
who in this country have left footprints behind them have been cold water men.
Sir John Robertson
makes you feel how you ought to feel without beer. Henry
Never have I seen
such enthusiam for water - and so little of it drunk. Sir George
Reid when opening the Kalgoorlie pipeline.
will spend about 30 hours in the water on this swim. It's not natural for a man
to go that long without a beer. Barry Rodgers, trainer of long
distance swimmer Des Redford, speaking as his champion prepared to swim from Newcastle
of Sydney (circa 1806) was divided into two classes, those who sold rum and those
who drank it. Dr George Macakness
every house in the (North Sydney) area will have a bottle collection crate and
we'll be collecting more than Mosman. And the mayor told me, they're much bigger
pisspots over here. Ron Walters
advertising industry lives a very cyclical life. December is the month for getting
pissed John Singleton
This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything
else I ever achieved. Bob Hawke in reference to his beer
(1)Mack P. Holt Alcohol: A Social and Cultural History, Berg Publishers 2006
Complaints about cultural comparisons
Emotion & innovation
Group vs individual
Tradition & change
Cults of multiculturalism
Warden & Convicts
Thinkers and Drinkers
Immigration and emmigration
Samurai & Convicts
Convicts vs Do gooders
Papua New Guinea
Chiefs and Elites
Kaffirs and Convicts