AFP – The Right to Remain Intimidating
by The Editor
Canberra, as we well know, is something of a nanny state. The amount of excessive red tape and OH&S over-compliance is insane. Given even the OECD recognises that Canberra excels in terms of per-capita education, you wouldn’t think that the local government would be so keen to guide us – blindfolded and by the hand – through so many of life’s simple challenges.
It’s a bit weird, isn’t it?
We were again reminded of this strange Canberra culture on Saturday evening while enjoying an early meal and a glass of wine at one of the Inner South’s delightful bars.
At around 6.30pm, with only a quarter-filled venue all enjoying a warm spring evening, two members of the Australian Police Force entered the bar decked out in high-viz wear, leather gloves and thick belts containing more armoury than Batman could possibly envision.
As expected, the entire room went silent, and everyone looked towards the cops in an attempt to understand the infraction that had led to their arrival. The police talked calmly to the manager and it was hard to determine the issue. There was nothing out of order immediately evident and, after around five or six minutes, they left.
We imply couldn’t help ourselves, and needed to find out why the cops were there in the first place, and why they left empty-handed.
The Canberran: Um, What was going on there?
Venue Manager: Oh, they just stopped in for a look – part of their nightly rounds I think.
TC: Really? They looked like they were going to arrest someone and throw them into the wagon. It’s barely sunset.
VM: No, that’s just what they do. You should see them walk through a nightclub – they’re totally aggressive because they’re scared someone is going to try and grab their gun or cuffs. It’s pretty full-on.
Indeed it is, and we don’t doubt the fact that, in a room filled with four or five hundred gurners, the police need to be very aware of what’s going on around them. However, does this heavy-handed approach really create a sense of care and engagement with the community who are largely just enjoying a night out? It’s an incredibly small minority that cause trouble in venues, and those venues – under the requirement of The Liquor Act – have other measures in place to ensure they are dealt with.
In the current atmosphere fallowing the fall-out from the borked Melbourne operation involving the Australian Border Force, police and other enforcement agencies must surely realise that giving the impression they are part of the community – as opposed to some sort of heavy-handed threat against it – is the way to win over the support of those you are trying to protect.
Instead of looking like members of the Tactical Response Squad crossed with site workers in the CFMEU, how about simply donning a baseball cap, a polo shirt and some pants, and wandering in to venues and simply chatting with customers. It’s got to be better than trying to scare the shit out of them.
Oh, and bring Constable Kenny Koala with you as well. The gurners will love it.