The “fun police” are conspiring to rob your children of monkey bars. This is “simply a bridge too far” in a “World Gone Mad” and if we do not rise as one to save human society from compliance with Australian safety standards, “the freedoms we loved” will be forever lost to cubic tonnes of rubber mulch. And, so on.

As proud mum only to needy houseplants, I have held no strong opinion on the safety of swings, roundabouts or monkey bars. But there is no opinion so strong it could wrest the monkey bars from the grip of the “fun police” who have policed playgrounds for as long as playgrounds have existed. The history of the playground in Australia owes nothing to the “priceless sense of freedom” beloved by Fairfax columnists. It has always been done at the cost of children’s freedom.

Public playgrounds are not an Edenic fact of life for children but a response to late industrial capitalism. The “risk-reduced, sanitized and safety-proofed childhood” that our columnists worry will be created by bureaucrats was created by bureaucrats from the start. The Playground Movement of the late US nineteenth was not the sort of “libertarian” thing a host on 3AW might fancy, but unambiguous social engineering.