Analysing alcohol management plans

Mark Tregonning writes: Re. “Ideology aside, the Aboriginal grog bans are working” (Friday). Your article on alcohol ban failed in one important point. Any analysis of the effect of a policy needs to address the fact that correlation does not equal causation.

Your writer makes the classic error of only looking at one possible causative factor in alcohol related injuries: the alcohol management plan (AMP), yet still concludes that any changes to alcohol injuries must be due to AMPs.

Over the relevant years there would be many factors which impact on the number and severity of drinking related problems in aboriginal communities. AMPs are one, but only one, factor to be considered. Changes in poverty, availability of other drugs, changes in population demographics, and the impact of other policies would all have effects.

A proper analysis would consider these other factors, eliminating them only for good reason.

By not taking this basic analytical step your writer betrays his own idealogical preferences for AMPs which lead him to hurry improperly to the doubtful conclusion that they are effective.

Aboriginal people, and your readers, deserve better.

Niall Clugston writes: Friday’s editorial makes it sound as if denying Aborigines the right to drink alcohol is new, ignoring its long history in Australia.

This policy is and always has been an attack on civil liberties, made even worse because it is based on racial discrimination. Of course, alcohol bans will reduce injuries in the community from violence and accidents, at least in the short term. So why not have prohibition Australia-wide? No, it’s only for Aborigines.

Yes, many Aboriginal communities have horrible social problems, but alcohol bans focus on a single factor and ignore the suffering and despair which leads to alcohol abuse. The primary problem is unemployment in the deepest sense.

And, no, empowering local communities to make the decision doesn’t make a bad policy good. Decentralising paternalism, or rather tyranny, doesn’t make it better. I don’t think many Australians would appreciate their local councils telling them whether they could drink.

Kim Williams on the future of journalism

Barry Donovan writes: Re. “Kim Williams channels Chekhov in press freedom rallying cry” (Friday). Andrew Crook was close to the mark with his comments about the AN Smith non-lecture by News Ltd CEO Kim Williams at Melbourne University. The elephant in the room of course was Empire leader Rupert Murdoch and no proper reference was made to him in the address or the questions. Presumably News Ltd.Australia has absolutely no real journalism connection with News Corp. and its current headline-making media news. The Williams reference to independent hard-hitting political news reporting which shows no bias towards any politicians was rather exploded the next morning with News Ltd national front page stories on the happy happy Abbott household where love reigns supreme. Didn’t the CEO know the story was being organised as he spoke?

Double standard: Jones v Williamson?

John Shailer writes: Re. “Tables turn on stumblebum Abbott as Labor cuts its error rate” (Friday). Alan Jones makes a totally offensive remark regarding Julia Gillard’s late father and there is frenzied ongoing media condemnation, fuelled by the usual Labor head-kickers, and linking his remarks to Tony Abbott. Michael Williamson, former Labor Party president, and until recently a vice-president and ACTU executive member, is charged with 20 serious criminal offences relating to an investigation of the alleged misuse of up to $20m of HSU funds of lowly-paid health workers.

Where is the same level of condemnation, and his obvious linkage to the Labor Party?

Sensitive Tony loves the ladies

Michael Secomb writes: Re. “A political advertorial” (Richard Farmer’s chunky bits, Friday). Pretty desperate of Tony Abbott to drag his wife out to reassure us that he really doesn’t hate women. I can’t imagine Julia Gillard trotting out Tim Matheson to say she doesn’t hate men. All Abbott proved was that he doesn’t hate all women — only Labor women.

Peter Fray

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