In an exchange on Carmen, cant and the State Opera of Western Australia, John Stitch wrote:
“So now its art according to what Ms Chard sees as appropriate? Let's hope she doesn't get to wield the censor's scissors on a national scale. The "I know what's best for you" mentality seems to be thriving in the arts as we lurch further to the right in this country. Just ask Paul Yore or Bill Henson.
In response, DG observed:
"...lurch further to the right". Hardly. The public health hierarchy is a creature of the left. The government knows what's best for you.
On the same day DG was writing, Kirsty Needham had this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Child protection checks evict grandfathers, foster fathers pointing to the difficulties being created in NSW by the tough new child protection laws introduced by the Liberal-National Coalition Government. The article begins:
Foster fathers and grandfathers are being barred from living with children for whom they are the primary carers after undergoing tough new child protection checks.
The Administrative Tribunal has been flooded with appeals against bans issued by the Office of the Children's Guardian under strict laws introduced last year.
Six out of 10 cases decided by the tribunal in the past six weeks were found in favour of men who had been forced out of the family home or prevented from working after failing a check.
On the surface, this would seem to be another example of the mess created in NSW under Governments of both political persuasions through over-zealous child protection laws. Consider the earlier example where the introduction of mandatory reporting brought an over-stretched NSW child protection system to its knees.
It seems to me that in every aspect of life we have created a social cancer that in the name of protection, standards, risk minimisation or harm reduction controls and limits what people can do to the point that no-one can actually properly understand all the applicable rules and regulations. Just as bad, there seems to be little evidence that the approach delivers real benefits relative to the direct and indirect costs involved.
There is a broad consensus that economic regulation should be reduced, although here too we introduce new controls as fast as we reduce existing controls. However, there is no consensus so far as social regulation is concerned.
So, for this Monday Forum, a few questions. Am I right in my interpretation of all this as a social cancer? If so, how did it arise and what do we do about it?
This ACT example, Canberra cat containment could be extended city-wide, is another example of the process that I have been taking about. We have a problem, the damage done by feral cats, and a response, more costs and controls on cat owners.