Mar 6, 2014

Health lobby v Bernard Keane: alcohol industry is the problem, not the solution

Curtin University professor of health policy Mike Daube responds to Crikey politics editor Bernard Keane's defence of the alcohol industry's DrinkWise campaign.

Bernard Keane’s political commentaries are generally entertaining and well-informed, but I wish I could understand his obsession with criticising people who work in public health and the personal abuse that goes with it. That of course is his prerogative as a journalist, although it would be good to see his regular gripes about people who actually want to reduce the harms matched by the same level of cynicism about industries that knowingly expose children and young people to massive promotion of products that will harm their health.

His defence of the alcohol industry’s DrinkWise organisation quotes an unnamed “senior public health figure” who for reasons that are not explained speaks only “on condition of anonymity”. It is hard to know how seriously one can take a “senior public health figures” without knowing who they are, what experience and associations they might have, what rationale there might be for their comments, and why they want to hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

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18 thoughts on “Health lobby v Bernard Keane: alcohol industry is the problem, not the solution

  1. S Grey

    Thank you for your article, Professor Daube, it is of considerable interest.

    To Crikey’s sub-editor: at the risk of being accused of ‘[non-]substantive abuse’, I believe Professor Daube would be engaged by Curtin University and not Curtain University.

  2. drmick

    I am with the professor on this one.
    There is no thought of how to claim some of the cost of looking after substance abuse victims in this country;in the way the tobacco industry was “demonised” to ensure they paid their fair share for smoking related illnesses in the USA.Keane is parroting the aboott/murdoch line like he is getting paid for it.

    Abbot made labor pay back their alcopop impost and destroyed the “controlled gambling” push with the help of the alcohol and gaming industry, purely because it would impact on alcohol sales.
    My local RSL has 10 poker machines in the outside smoking area; they pull in 8 times more money per week, than the other 50 machines inside the club. There are a lot of clubs just like this in NSW. More than enough money to pay the parrots in the press gallery.

  3. Phen

    Defund all of these anti-alcohol organisations sand their nanny state nonsense.

  4. Paul Collins

    I think the line about Duff Beer is a great example of the overzealousness of Mike Daube and the regulators as a whole. The Simpsons might be watched by kids, but it’s target audience would be those who are legally allowed to enjoy alcohol.

    Duff Beer is drunk on the Simpsons, should we just ban the whole show because kids might watch it, or should we just leave the responsibility with parents to not let their kids watch the show if they have a problem with Beer drinking?

    Australia has stricter rules than most developed countries already and rates of alcohol drinking are going down anyway. If you don’t like alcohol Mike, don’t drink it, but stop trying to ruin the fun for the rest of us responsible drinkers with taxes and regulation.

  5. Chris Hartwell

    Emergency room statistics suggest otherwise Paul.

  6. Phen

    “Emergency room statistics” are a much poorer measure than actual sales volumes of the manufacturers/importers.

  7. drmick

    Come and work where I work. 148 people permanently damaged as a result of substance abuse just waiting to die. The youngest is in their 20`s.
    Yeah. of course its a government plot.
    Yeah of course the prof cant see the humour.
    Yeah dont restrict my rights nanny state. I want to end up in a vegetative state. It is my right.
    Yeah any excuse the overpaid cold blooded murdering marketers can manufacure to ensure a bumper crop of new brain damaged individuals to replace the ones that die. Just doing your bit for Australia like the lumberjacks.

  8. Rosemary Stanton

    It’s worth looking at the likely motivations for specific actions. Professor Daube and others of us who work in public health want to reduce the harms from excess alcohol. These include not only the harm to individuals but also the harm to the health budget.

    Just as you can set up questionnaires (or audits) to get the outcome you desire, so groups like Drinkwise can set up campaigns to get the outcomes desired by their industry. How likely is it that they would want to reduce sales of alcohol?

  9. rhwombat

    “Emergency room statistics” are a much poorer measure than actual sales volumes of the manufacturers/importers.


    Poorer measure of what – profit and propaganda?

    Having worked in public hospitals EDs in Newcastle, I can vouch for the effects of imposing the lockouts etc., so bitterly opposed by the AHA, the alcohol lobby, their shills, addicts & fellow travellers (including Bernard Keene).
    Kypros Kypri’s study backs up Mike Daube, and none of the hysterical denialism of Keane et al. is going to stop those of us who care about others from pointing out the (literally) bloody hypocrisy of telling the truth to greed.

  10. rhwombat

    sorry – hypocrisy of publicly denigrating the the telling of truth to greed.

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