Getting practice on dogs. We would not dream of allowing medical schools to go trolling around refuges for homeless people seeking out no-hopers without a chance of ever getting a better life and then taking them away in special ambulances so students could learn how to perform operations on real, live specimens. When it comes to veterinary schools and dogs we have a different standard. While the surgeons we put our own faith in to operate on us learn without this live experimentation, vets can practice away on the helpless waifs and strays that end in the dog pound.

Recently in Queensland the Brisbane City Council agreed with the RSPCA that what’s good enough for people should be good enough for dogs or, to put it another way, what’s good enough doctors should be good enough for vets. The Council voted to stop the Queensland Veterinary School at Brisbane University from collecting the waifs and strays. Now the University of Queensland is fighting a rearguard action to stop this veto being extended to cover the dog pounds of other local councils. I regret to report that this week the Logan Council agreed to continue to be a provider of animals from its pound for students to experiment on.

Horse racing industry beware. Tabcorp did not quite put it this way when releasing its annual results yesterday but the racing industry has been given notice that the gravy train on which it depends is about to become a toy train rather than a fair dinkum one. What Tabcorp did say is that it is looking to the bookmaking operation it is establishing in the Northern Territory to help it bolster its disappointing profit performance. This will happen by encouraging its clients to bet over the phone and on the internet in the jurisdiction where it pays least to the Government by way of tax and virtually nothing to the racing industry at all compared with the high tax and high payments to racing that come from its traditional TAB operations in Victoria and NSW.

Shutting down the site. It is as if the spirits industry is deliberately setting out to lose the support of those members of parliament who are supporting its stand against the increased tax on alcopops. The latest advertising effort of Jim Beam, the big selling imported brand, was bound to create an outcry with its The Neighbours campaign. A 30 second television version features a semi-naked woman saying “We say, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, take off your cozzie.” On its own this might just have passed muster although clearly in breach of the voluntary industry code which supposedly bans linking alcohol with sex. What was quite over the top was an expanded internet version on a special The Neighbours promotional site which has now been shut down:

According to The Age , the internet version had two blondes in G-strings applying sunscreen, bouncing on a trampoline and finally stripping naked as they’re watched through a hedge by “Stevo next door” and his mates. The camera zooms in on their breasts and backsides before ending with a close-up of one topless woman washing dishes at the kitchen sink. It is this kind of promotion which makes an old liquor salesman like me despair about the common sense of marketing people.

Some sporting notes. Looking on the dull side of life. Good to see an Australian sporting team realising that even a cloud of Beijing smog may have a golden lining. On ABC television last night I noted the clay pigeon shooter saying that that Chinese smog/fog/pollution made the orange target more visible.


Kate Ellis in British colours. We hope we never see it but Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis has promised to wear British colours at the first sporting contest after the Olympic Games should the Poms win for more medals than Australia. Surely the more likely result is British Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, who made the bet with Ms Ellis, having to show up at Old Trafford in the green and gold. It could be worse — the losing minister might have had to wear a Canadian Olympic Games uniform.

Wisdom of a head master. “If young people, to use the colloquialism, ‘stuff up’, we would do well to remember that we have done likewise, and without the magnification of media moguls.” – Peter Gebhardt, a former principal of Geelong College and retired County Court judge, writing of fallen Magpies in The Age yesterday under the headline Turning Pies into demons.