My Island Police State #2


On reflection, this is perhaps a little more on the nanny state side rather than the police state side of things, though the jack-booted denouement I think just tips it in…

A friend of mine owns a cafe. I wandered in there yesterday and noticed there were A4 copies of posters I’d seen around on bus and tram stops recently – the ones that make up the Commonwealth Games anti-litter campaign – “Let’s get in training for the games”, with a picture of someone hurdling over a park bench, litter in hand, towards the rubbish bin finish line – that kinda stuff.

These posters were in the windows on the doors into the cafe. I asked my friend about it and he told me he’d had a visit from the council. The council woman had come in and told him that the posters had to be put up on the doors into the place as part of the campaign in the lead up to the games. She then informed him that there would be a visit from a couple of health department inspectors to make sure that he had, in fact, stuck them up and if they weren’t there’d be trouble.

Since when has providing free advertising space for the local council been part of health department food handling requirements? And what justification could there be to pay health inspectors to roam around the municipality, policing such a stupid requirement?

I know it’s just a small thing but it’s not an isolated example of the insanity that’s sweeping into Melbourne on the pre-text of making a good impression for all the visitors to the games. Fuck the games! Fuck the waste of money that’s accompanied them.

The other thing that’s bugged me about them is the big ‘crack-down’ on graffiti, including stencilling, with threats to building owners with fines if they don’t clean up any graffiti that appears on their properties.

It all just smacks of being something we’re not, just to try and impress a bunch of meathead sports nuts. Tagging is one thing but stencil graffiti is a valid form of artistic and political expression and is part of the culture of Melbourne. Screw the wowsers in our govern-mental institutions. Screw Ron Walker.

And if litter’s such a problem, conduct a sustained education programme rather than paying lip service to a lame games event, with posters all over the place accomanied with threats to business owners. It gives me a good mind to break my own habit of a lifetime, gather as much litter as possible over the next month and dump it in high profile venues once the meatheads get here.

  • February 1, 2006