Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, gilmae, Gummo Trotsky, Amanda Rose, Tim Sterne, Jen McCulloch and Stephen Hill



via Larvatus Prodeo

Tim Blair has been doing some sleuthing on the rumours that Kevin Rudd recently had a (hushed up) minor heart attack.

More from Peter Martin on FoodWatch and why the ACCC should be doing the watching, not the Bureau of Statistics (who already perform a similar but functionally different survey).

I (KP) swore to myself that I wouldn’t include any more Henson posts in Missing Link, but Roger Migently’s is brief and worth reading.

Possum pays out on MSM pundits portraying polls as poor for PM, as do Ken Lovell and Lyn Calcutt(I’ve suddenly lost my alliterative ambition, almost).

Momentarily promoted from the snark section into the blogging sunshine, Jeremy Sear goes the knuckle on Derryn Hinch’s latest human headline “outing pedophiles” stunt.

Winners and losers from the NSW Budget. ((Some of us may be winners, but with Costa and Iemma still there, all of us in NSW have just received a new shipment of Lose.~gilmae))

Jason Soon made me (gilmae) want some cheap white chocolate. Oh, and believes that Rudd spreads himself too thin.


Hilzoy probes hijinks in financial markets regulation and McCain adviser Senator Phil Gramm’s connections.

At openDemocracy, Tyrrell Haberkorn examines Thailand’s state of impunity (recommended).

Daniel Davies denigrates the Darfur joint pronouncement of the 3 (2?) remaining US Presidential candidates.

Norman Geras thinks the UN discredits itself by allowing the murderous Mugabe to caper around on the international stage.


Peter Timmins looks at leakers and whistleblowers.

Legal Eagle examines the “character” provisions in section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (which started out dealing with deportation of serious criminals but has recently expanded into a “catch-all” provision seemingly designed to allow any non-citizen the guvmint dislikes to be booted out summarily).((It’s worth noting that the Federal Court in the Haneef case gave a fairly narrow reading to some of these provisions, and would probably do so in future.  Nevertheless, it’s a section the Rudd government should revisit if they’re even slightly interested in elitist concepts like fairness and rule of law. ~ KP)) 

Eugene Volokh muses in the wake of news that Brigitte Bardot has been convicted of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing [to the French President] that Muslims are destroying France.((It’s an instructive commentary on where the European legal system, as opposed to the US one, draws the line between supposedly Convention-protected free speech and other more collective values. ~ KP))

Brian Tamanaha on Richard Posner on legalism, conservatism and authoritarianism:

Some judges are more comfortable with rules, others with standards, and the reasons may be largely temperamental–may in fact be related to the difference between the authoritarian and the nonauthoritarian personality, which in turn is correlated, though perhaps only weakly because much more than personality influences a judge’s behavior, with the judge’s preference ordering of legalism and pragmatism. The legalist loves rules because they promise (though it is a promise frequently broken in application) to curtail judicial discretion by confining judges to determining a handful of prespecified facts.

Ted Frank calls bullshit on a consumer advocacy group running a campaign against compulsory commercial arbitration.

Phillip Carter draws attention to a story suggesting that the kangaroo court military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay are an even more disgraceful farce than even cynical observers might have expected.  Still, as Ghost who Walks says, rough justice for roughnecks.  Pity if the guvmint ever decides you’re one of the roughnecks.

Publius divines a ray of hope that Roe v Wade (the US Supreme Court decision enshrining the right to abortion under the guise of distinctly dubious substantive due process reasoning) might yet be saved from the God-botherers even under a McCain government.


Joshua Gans and Harry Clarke both disagree with an AFR opinion piece attacking the Four Pillars policy. 

an old bag

walking the rows – watching the sky (Jen gets nostalgic for her fruit-picking days)

good breeding stock (a classic line from Mrs Harbord in last night’s Ladettes to Ladies finale)


Issues analysis

dr faustus considers research on the performance of girls in reading and maths across countries. Also preempts the assigning of some hating on dodgy fMRI reasearch to the snark category. Geoff Robinson completes the research trifecta with some lazy psephological conclusions.

Going for the quadrella, Andrew Leigh abstracts research suggesting that gay marriage might reduce sexually transmitted diseases, and tells us how to identify the best teachers.

Chris Berg takes the brainless stream of libertarianism to new depths of idiocy with his kneejerk opposition to making taxes on alcopops equal to taxes on spirits generally.((NPOV is hereby officially abandoned when it comes to this goose. ~ KP))

Niall Cook zeroes in on bottom-dwelling denizens of the finance industry.


From The Worst of Perth

Bud Parr considers Dominique Fabre’s novella The Waitress Was New

Amanda Rose offers a tribute to iconic bluesman Bo Diddley, while Shaun Cronin provides a muxtape of some of the Diddley’s finest songs.

Shaun Cronin reviews prolific slide-guitarist Jeff Lang’s new album Halfs Seas Over

Jeff Gomez thinks Sonic Youth are no longer interested in “liberating us girls from male white corporate oppression?” after agreeing to exclusively distribute a new celebrity-curated CD compilation at Starbucks.

The Complete Review offers its verdict on one of Naguib Mahfouz’s earliest novels Cairo Modern


Tony has carried out some crucial research on AFL fans. Oh and links to similar research from some fly-by-night operation.

A Kiwi sportsfan is angered and mystified by countrymen threatening to support the Wallabies because the All blacks spurned Robbie Deans. 

Snark, strangeness and charm

Jason Soon has video of recently passed blues and rock legend, Bo Diddley.

Mercurius chooses a soft journalistic target in the SMH’s increasingly foolish Elizabeth Farrelly writing just about anything outside her expert field of architecture and planning.

Legal Eagle and skepticlawyer are cranking up a post on Caz and Hack, but they need your help because the dastardly duo has decamped with most of the evidence of their foul deeds.

Pushing feminist “personal is political” rhetoric to strange new worlds where no man has been (except Gam), Apathetic Sarah gives us too much information on her menstrual periods.

Tim Train tells the tragic tale of the man born with a black bar across his face (though it seems to have migrated south for some of his spawn).

What with burgeoning world population and all, Dale thinks we all need to prepare ourselves for cockroach crunch peanut butter, before predictably sinking into philosophically fuelled pessimism.

TroppoSphere, in case Missing Link email subscribers haven’t noticed, is now available as a convenient gateway to a world of news and expert opinion and analysis for those with feed reader phobia. It contains feeds to most of the blogs and other sources whose best/selected content we most regularly feature in Missing Link, as well as general news feeds and those from selected online magazines like openDemocracy, Reason, Slate, Spiked, New Matilda, Australian Opinion Online and Online Opinion.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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39 Responses to Missing Link Daily

  1. Jacques Chester says:

    I don’t quite see how you can characterise Chris Berg’s discussion of how to form evidence-based policy based on .. well … evidence as ‘knee jerk’.

  2. Darlene says:

    Oh dear, not a girly giving us too much information about her, gulp, periods.

    Here’s a link that might be of interest re: the personal being political.


    If only more girl bloggers were like Caroline Hamilton.

  3. Ken Parish says:


    Berg is simply rehashing the liquor industry’s patently spurious disinformation campaign against the tax changes, as I suppose you’d expect from an employee of an organisation that is little more than an astroturf operation.

    His entire argument (and that of the liquor industry) rests on deliberately misinterpreting the thrust of the tax change initiative by stressing the ease with which existing young drinkers can switch to other spirit drinks. That’s self-evidently true but it’s utterly beside the point. Anyone not suffering wilful blindness realises that the liquor industry introduced premixed alcopops in a (wildly successful) bid to hook kids on alcohol earlier as new consumers, given that their immature taste buds crave sweet stuff. It’s not unlike the tobacco industry’s recent thwarted attempt to introduce fruit-flavoured cigarettes!!!! Making it harder (or more expensive) just to buy premixed sweet alcopops off the shelf is certainly likely to deter/delay some kids from starting to hit the grog quite as early as many now do. The liquor industry doesn’t manufacture and market these products believing that they have no effect on increasing their sales to the target market, so why should we accept their self-serving arguments that making it harder for them to do so would be pointless? This is an area where demand is certainly elastic and the consumers (viz teenagers still at school) extremely price-sensitive. The argument that making alcopops more expensive will have no effect is a first cousin to the bullshit rationalisations the tobacco industry used to trot out to oppose banning of cigarette advertising.

    I certainly don’t have any problem with someone (not the liquor industry) conducting research into the effect of such tax changes on child consumer behaviour, but the proposition that the taxes should not be increased while such research is conducted (which Berg seems to be arguing) is not a logical corollary. At bottom, I have a high level of contempt for shills like Berg who employ bullshit, misleading pseudo-intellectual, simplistic libertarian arguments to promote the god-given right of alcohol and tobacco industry to prey on children and get them addicted to substances that will end up killing far too many of them.

  4. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Are there two Ken Parishs? One seems to think that reasoned debate is a good idea and that people jump too readily to conclusions, while the other thinks that anyone who supports evidence-based policy is a lying shill in the pockets of big tobbaco, even if they’re discussing alcohol excise. (oops, naughty presumption there).

    I’m starting to like Currency Lad’s ‘Rothmans law’.

  5. Jason Soon says:

    So is Berg a kneejerk doctrinaire libertarian or only saying these things because he’s a shill of Big Liquour, Ken? which is it? you don’t think anyone who is a libertarian might hold these views?

  6. Ken Parish says:

    I didn’t say (or imply) either that evidence-based policy was a bad thing or that that Berg was lying, just spinning the truth dishonestly by pulling a rhetorical pea and thimble trick – diverting the audience’s attention onto an irrelevant aspect. The part of his post dealing with supposed arguments against increasing alcopops tax carefully concentrates exclusively on existing drinkers and the ease with which they can substitute other alcoholic beverages, and fails even to mention the actual policy rationale of delaying kids starting drinking in the first place.

    Finally, the tobacco industry analogy is just that, and an apt one in that both industries employ the same tactics and largely the same lobbyists to preserve their commercial freedom to peddle killer drugs to kids.

  7. Ken Parish says:

    “you dont think anyone who is a libertarian might hold these views?”

    I would have imagined that any rational moderate libertarian would:

    (a) prima facie accept that taxing the same quantities of alcohol at the same rate was a better idea than giving tax breaks to products deliberately designed to hook children as alcohol consumers; and
    (b) accept that some economic freedoms many need to be constrained where children are concerned.

    However, I assume from your comment that you’re about to prove me wrong (or prove that you’re not in fact a rational moderate libertarian, depending on one’s perspective).

  8. Jason Soon says:

    No I’m saying you’re contradicting yourself. You started off by saying Berg holds the views he does because he takes a doctrinaire stance to his libertarian beliefs. Now you come up with the shilling hypothesis. which is it? Or are you now claiming that all doctrinaire libertarians are shills? That is another hypothesis that stands up to even less scrutiny since the doctrinaire ones are even less saleable. Why not take it that Berg holds his beliefs in good faith and is mistaken?

  9. Ken Parish says:


    Observing that Berg is employing the arguments of the “brainless stream of libertarianism” (i.e. the semi-anarchist end that believes “taxation if theft” and similar mantras) doesn’t imply that Berg himself is brainless or that he privately necessarily subscribes to those arguments independent of the commercial interest of the IPA to pander to big corporates. I don’t think he is brainless at all, it’s clear from his writing that he’s both highly intelligent and well educated. I don’t believe that he’s spinning accidentally or that he just doesn’t understand the actual rationale for the excise change. In other words, I’m operating on the hypothesis that he’s a shill rather than a fool, and my working hypothesis is partly based on my perceptions of the nature of the IPA for which he works. I don’t deny that my impression is very biased against both Berg and the IPA, but I reckon the bias is justified in the circumstances. I’m really very angry about this whole topic, teenage binge drinking and the factors causing it are far more objectively important IMO than all the silly nonsense about Henson’s harmless if tacky nudie photos.

  10. Jason Wilson says:


    I’m not a libertarian, and I don’t have much time for the IPA. I have nothing to do with the alcohol industry except as a consumer. But I’m yet to be convinced that these measures are going to succeed either in moderating the behaviour of existing drinkers, or in preventing people from drinking in the first place.

    I don’t agree with the basic philosophical orientation of the writer you’re discussing, but surely the points he makes about people turning to mixing their own drinks are pretty obvious. RTDs weren’t so prominent in the marketplace when I was an underage drinker, but I worked out pretty quickly how to mix up drinks – it’s really not that hard. The alcohol industry is concerned, it seems to me, not because these measures are going to reduce the volume of alcohol sales a jot, nor because they won’t be able to recruit new drinkers, but because RTDs are a high value-added, high-margin product, and now people have a much greater incentive to buy bottled spirits. There’s no doubt that some RTDs are marketed at young drinkers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean underage drinkers. Anyway, getting off one’s face markets itself pretty well as an experience to teenagers.

    It’s probably right that all alcohol should be taxed at the same rate, but that’s the argument we should be having. Changing the price of alcopops doesn’t address cultural issues around drinking, or help individuals develop responsible drinking practices. Having said that, if you have some solid evidence that jacking up the price of alcopops would limit underage drinking, I’d be keen to see it. I just haven’t seen any yet.

  11. Patrick says:

    Ken, at least personally speaking, the only bubbly drinks I recall my teenaged friends drinking was passion pop and spumante. They were also quite big fans of Midori and Bailey’s, and in a pinch, casks of Tropical Cooler would do. Or they could always mix our bourbon, or even drink beer.

    All said and done, they got completely and utterly wasted. The single biggest driver of this was probably their wanting to, the second, that ‘the boys’ were doing it anyway and they may as well come along.

    So I think Jason’s last paragraph is exactly right, and even if Chris didn’t consider the part of the argument you prefer, he was focused on the part of the argument that Rudd prefers, which seems a legitimate basis on which to oppose Rudd‘s plan.

  12. Niall says:

    The alcopops issue is merely a tool of government designed to both garner revenue and provide statistics on the decrease in light and dark spirits drink sales, thereby ‘proving’ that Rudd government policies work. Sham doesn’t go halfway to describing the shaft that supporters of this policy edict don’t realise they’re receiving.

  13. Jason, you may not be a libertarian, but you’ve just made one of the core libertarian arguments against ‘sin’ taxes: initially, they raise a bit of revenue, but once everyone learns to cheat (and, like both Jason and Patrick, I learned how to mix drinks too), the whole exercise becomes fairly pointless fairly quickly.

    My partner is part-Aboriginal and I’ve seen the devastating effects of alcohol among my own (mattress) relations. However, I’m also wise enough to know that prohibition and behaviour modification via taxation doesn’t work where demand is inelastic. Teenagers may be price sensitive, but they’ll go for booze however they can get it, including theft if necessary.

    Like Ken, I’d prefer the simpler tax (all alcohol taxed at the same rate), as simplicity is often cheaper. However, that does not mean that Chris’ argument is without merit.

  14. FDB says:

    “Like Ken, Id prefer the simpler tax (all alcohol taxed at the same rate)”

    Now this would be very problematic in the face of what you’re saying about demand inelasticity (with which I broadly agree). A across-the-board flat tax on alcohol content would massively raise the price of cask wine, decimating the incomes of already impoverished alcoholics.

    Otherwise I agree wholeheartedly with the notion. A tax on RTDs could in fact be described as a tax on making drinks more delicious. Patently absurd, and my prediction is that following a period of increased beer and wine drinking amongst young folks, what we’ll get is a realisation that in point of fact RTDs were never very delicious anyway (merely incredibly sweet), leading in turn to an overall improvement in the appreciation and application of good drink-mixing skills in our young folk. Which can only be a good thing. ;)

  15. FDB says:

    Seriously though, even before the tax hike a slab of 5%alc/vol brand-name scotch and cola cost roughly the same ($50-60) as a very respectable 12YO blended whisky with ice and mixers of choice. The ONLY half-decent RTD gin and tonic (Gordon’s) went for $75 a slab! Ten bucks more, and you’ve got 2 bottles of Bombay Sapphire with ice, tonic and fresh lemons.

    So, while I think the RTD tax is retarded, at least it may help to put paid to a lot of false consciousness about the “quality” of the product.

  16. Jason Wilson says:


    Jason, you may not be a libertarian, but youve just made one of the core libertarian arguments against sin taxes: initially, they raise a bit of revenue, but once everyone learns to cheat… the whole exercise becomes fairly pointless fairly quickly.

    LOL – it’s a fair cop, guv, except that I don’t object to a tax on alcohol per se. I do think that alcohol manufacturers’ products do extract a social cost(they are selling potentially dangerous and addictive drugs) so that levying those products to recover some of that is fair enough. (I don’t doubt that we disagree on this point.) If the government wants to equalise those taxes or make the system simpler, fine, but they should just say so.

    I do think that people are kidding themselves (or others) if they are arguing that this will put a dent in binge-drinking or stop people starting to drink if they’re so inclined. Cheap alcohol is still available, and some of it just got cheaper, relatively speaking.

    Like FDB, I can’t understand why anyone would buy a carton of “Scotch and Cola” in preference to a bottle of Laphroaig. But I do have some sympathy with the argument that as far as inexperienced drinkers go, RTDs might actually minimise some harm by keeping the mix to 5% or 6% alc/vol. I’m pretty sure a lot of people wouldn’t be so scrupulous when mixing their own (I’m not :) )

  17. FDB says:

    Jason – not to mention the ability of young females to better avoid drink spiking.

    “Hey baby, I’ll mix you a special one of mine…”

    Although to be honest, I’ve always had an utterly baseless suspicion that the majority of drink-spiking allegations are the post facto rationalisations of people who get too drunk and do something they regret.

    “How on Earth did I wake up next to this vile pig of a man? He MUST have spiked my drink!”

    “No mum and dad [hurl], I swear I just had two shandies [cough, splutter]”

    NOTE: I am not attempting to cast aspersions on those who’ve actually been victim to this disgusting and criminal behaviour.

  18. Ken Parish says:

    “I cant understand why anyone would buy a carton of Scotch and Cola in preference to a bottle of Laphroaig. ”

    Most of the commenters on this thread seem to be thinking about the problem from the perspective of their own current alcohol tastes and experiences. My main concern is about seriously udner-age drinkers (aged 12-15) because that’s where the most troubling explosion of binge drinking is apparently occurring (a stark reality I experienced the hard way a few years ago when my daughter had her 15th birthday party and several hundred mostly drunken children turned up because someone advertised it on the Internet).

    The research indicates that the palates of these kiddie drinkers are so undeveloped that they can’t stand the taste of alcohol, but love sweet and milky drinks, and therefore are only susceptible to foul sweet concoctions like Bacardi Breezers or Chocolate Vodka Mudshakes (based on white spirits whose alcoholic taste is easily masked by sweet and milky mixers). Thus they’re not going to be remotely tempted even by scotch and cola let alone a bottle of Laphroaig. Moreover, and again because they’re only kids, they would be unlikely to be able to afford to buy a bottle of scotch or vodka or whatever for $30-40. They are certainly price-sensitive buyers and at the very least increasing the price through taxation is likely to reduce the number of cans they can afford to buy.

    I’m not suggesting in any sense that increasing the excise is a complete answer, or even any more than a small part of the answer. But research certainly shows that price (along with placement, packaging, promotion, education, and restrictions on availability to kids through stronger enforcement) DOES have an effect on consumption patterns. If Rudd fails to take effective action on these other fronts as well then he should certainly be condemned, but criticism of the tax increase per se is IMO either misconceived or given in bad faith (and I strongly suspect that Berg belongs in the second group).

  19. JC says:


    a stark reality I experienced the hard way a few years ago when my daughter had her 15th birthday party and several hundred mostly drunken children turned up

    And most often it’s the parents that are buying the bloody drinks for the kids.

    Contrast that with American parents who aren’t as accepting or tolerant.

    Aussie parents have a very lax attitude to underage drinking.

  20. FDB says:

    “thats where the most troubling explosion of binge drinking is apparently occurring”

    Okay, hold up a bit. I understand you have experienced one anecdotal “appearance” of this “explosion”, but I can tell you that when I was 14 (1988) kids had parties and got slaughtered just fine without RTDs. What we did was drink other things. Personally I had an adult palate way back, but there was always Vodka and Passiona for the girls and girly-men. Or fruity lexia in a box.

    Does anyone have actual EVIDENCE (like, data) that young teen or pre-teen drinking has increased? Extra points if some effort is made to eliminate the effects of increased media attention or improved honesty in reportage.

  21. Jason Wilson says:

    Ken, with respect, the comment you quote was pretty clearly an aside. I wasn’t generalising from my own tastes there to make comments about teenage drinkers. It doesn’t have much to do with the substance of the comment about RTDs providing controlled doses.

    Anyway, I vivdly recall teenage parties where people mixed up sweet, milk-based cocktails (e.g. Kahlua, Baileys, Tia Maria) with consummate ease. I also recall people pooling their pennies to buy bottles of liquer or spirits. I don’t suppose that these strategies are unavailable to today’s youngsters. If you have a “buyer” for contraband alcohol, surely these methods are no more difficult than procuring alcopops.

    On this:

    But research certainly shows that price (along with placement, packaging, promotion, education, and restrictions on availability to kids through stronger enforcement) DOES have an effect on consumption patterns.

    Well, that’s the point, isn’t it. So far we have a price increase. I heard an representative of independent retailers on Lateline business the other night claiming that it hasn’t changed volumes of alcohol sales at all, just the mix of those sales. If they’re shills too, well so be it, but I haven’t heard any evidence to the contrary.

    But thanks for the link to the paper – I’ll read it with interest, and I’m willing to be convinced. And of course, I don’t think the tax equalisation is a bad idea.

  22. Tim Quilty says:

    Yep, cause kids are drinking alcoholic drinks for the sugar. If only someone had told them how cheap sugar is in the supermarket, and no ID required… Funny that when we first got drunk it was the dry cooking sherry my mother had in the whopping big bottle under the sink. God, it was awful, but it did the job.

    Maybe the government could pass a law banning the sale of alcohol to teenagers. That would probably work.

    We have a comprehensive culture of teen drinking. I know we did it 20 years ago, I suspect it wnt on 40 years ago, and it may very well be considerably older then that. I fiemly expect these tax hikes to cause no reduction in teen drinking at all, and really no impact except an increase in the risky behaviours involved in dealing with straight spirits. Bottle sculling, anyone?

  23. Laura says:

    I just thought I would mention that according to Wikipedia you can get drunk by eating several thousand Tim Tams.

  24. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Laura, if you hadn’t posted that link I would never have got to read this:

    The thicker chocolate coating on the Double Coat Tim Tam offers a more stable structure to help ensure that the biscuit does not collapse prematurely – refrigerating them also helps to preseve the outside structure while allowing the inside of the biscuit (cookie) to melt. The Chewy Caramel variety also has an advantage for performing the Tim Tam Slam since the caramel centre helps to hold the biscuit together for a slightly longer time. The Arnott’s company prefers the name Tim Tam Suck and ran an advertising campaign promoting it under this name.

    Not only do I now have an unfair advantage if ever again challenged to perform the Tim Tam Slam (make sure it’s a Double Coat or a Chewy Caramel), but I have major new evidence for my theory that advertising ‘creatives’ are the biggest idiots on the planet.

  25. Jason Wilson says:

    I’m gonna eat Tim Tams until I fall over.

  26. Sinclair Davidson says:

    or given in bad faith (and I strongly suspect that Berg belongs in the second group).

    If you dislike a proposed solution to a certain problem, you dont care about that problem.

    Just wondering…

  27. Ken Parish says:


    Your accusation would be a fair cop if I was only relying on Berg’s immediate argument. In fact I’m relying on both his and the IPA’s track record as well. The fact that I don’t make the unjustified assumption you suggest purely on the presentation of an argument with which I disagree is demonstrated by the fact that I certainly don’t suggest that either Jason Wilson or FDB are guilty of bad faith. I’ve already confessed to a major bias against the IPA, but as I also said I think it’s a well justified bias on all the evidence.

  28. Laura says:

    What would be the point of going the slammer with a more strongly built tim tam? All the (considerable) excitement it offers is predicated on the knowledge that the whole quivering edifice of melting chocolate and mush could collapse into your tea at any second.

  29. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Oh, sure. But the last time I performed a TT Slam, there was money changing hands. My sister stood to lose 50 cents.

    Also, Tim Tams and tea? Ew.

  30. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Ken – I think you’re on the angry pills. Chris hardly has a track record of arguing in bad faith. The article that you linked to says nothing about ‘bad faith’ and points to no track record of bad faith – it speaks about funding and influence.

    In any event Chris wrote it up on his private blog which, apart from a few die-hards and your link, is hardly huge publicity for any potential donors or likely to influence government etc. Chris is making a general argument about public policy using the alcopop issue as an example – he even suggests how those opposed to alcopops (i.e. in favour of the increased excise) could improve their argument!

  31. FDB says:

    Apologies for self-quoting, but…

    “Does anyone have actual EVIDENCE (like, data) that young teen or pre-teen drinking has increased? Extra points if some effort is made to eliminate the effects of increased media attention or improved honesty in reportage.”

    Actually, has anyone even heard about anyone claiming to have such EVIDENCE?

    Serious question.

  32. David Rubie says:

    Ken Parish wrote:

    Ive already confessed to a major bias against the IPA, but as I also said I think its a well justified bias on all the evidence.

    A, c’mon Ken, the IPA isn’t all bad. Consider this:

    Hipster d00dz in luv beads.

    I mean, where else can you get those kind of pictures without undue attention from the feds? They’re performing a valuable public service.

  33. Ken Parish says:


    You may be right that I’ve been excessively harsh on Berg as an individual in this instance. However I still think it’s entirely justified to treat the IPA and all who sail in her with the deepest suspicion. Like the Australia Institute on the opposite ideological extreme, they indulge in blatant advocacy “research” with little or no effort at real academic rigour or detachment. However, at least the Australia Insitute discloses its donors/sponsors.


    This article from 2002 (subscription only) apparently finds:

    Teenage binge drinking is increasing significantly, according to a new alcohol guidelines report from the National Health and Medical Research Council. The report reveals that in 1998, more than two-thirds of people who drank too much on a given day were teenagers, and that more than two-thirds of teenagers had drunk alcohol in the previous 12 months.

    As far as I can see, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey collected statistics on alcohol use for 12-15 year olds for the first time in 2004, and their 2007 survey is not yet available on their website. The figures show that 3.3% of children in this age group drink alcohol weekly, while 29.1% drink, but less than weekly. There don’t seem to be any figures concerning abusive (binge) drinking for this age group. Thus it isn’t possible to say conclusively whether binge drinking in this age group is rising, nor at what level it is.

    For the older age group (age 14-19), figures are available going back some years. They show no statistically significant increase in either total drinking or binge drinking, but they DO show binge drinking at levels that any sensible person IMO would find worrying. Again drawing on the 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 10.7% of this age group drank at DANGEROUS levels weekly and another 16.9% did so at least monthly.

    I’m in no sense a wowser, and obviously a significant number of young people always have and always will behave fooolishly with alcohol and other drugs from time to time, but these figures would surely be alarming to any reasonable person. I can only assume that those on this comment thread who implicitly dismiss the seriousness of the problem are not parents of teenagers (I have a 19 year old daughter and a 13 year old step-daughter, both of whom are enthusiastically social, hence the focus on this issue).

  34. JC says:

    I can only assume that those on this comment thread who implicitly dismiss the seriousness of the problem are not parents of teenages

    KenP in a huge number of cases it is the bloody parents actually buying the grog for the kids.

    According to reports the government actually budgeted for a higher excise intake from this area so by default they think the tax won’t do a thing and looks more like a good old fashioned tax grab cloaked as concern for the welfare of kids.

    If they were really concerned about kid drinking the states could pass much harsher laws against actions that support teen drinking such as charging parents who buy kids the booze…… Unlikely

  35. Sinclair Davidson says:

    You’ve been having a bad day Ken. From ‘knee jerk’ to ‘shill’ through ‘dishonest’ all the way to ‘bad faith’ before getting to ‘I have been excessivily harsh’. Now, I think, you’re one of the more sensible people around so it’s easy to see how this kind of behaviour arises.

    We should add the Hanson’s list “Anything said by an employee of an organisation you dislike, even in a private discussion, must be wrong”.

  36. FDB says:

    “but these figures would surely be alarming to any reasonable person.”

    Either you are wrong about that, or I am not a reasonable person.

    “I can only assume that those on this comment thread who implicitly dismiss the seriousness of the problem are not parents of teenagers”

    Guilty, m’lud.

    “They show no statistically significant increase in either total drinking or binge drinking, but they DO show binge drinking at levels that any sensible person IMO would find worrying.”

    So I’m not even sensible now? Sheesh. No increase, so why worry? Sure, I will, when I do have a teenaged kid, worry that they are doing the exact same dangerous and foolish things that I did. And naturally, I’ll worry that perhaps they’re doing even worse. Will I (or should I now) therefore worry about “young people” or “society”? Should I support the selective taxing of products thought to have “caused” this non-increase?

  37. Ken Parish says:


    You have conveniently ignored the paper I first mentioned which does assert a significant increase in teenage binge drinking. You also assume without evidence that the rates of abusive drinking are no higher than they were when you were a kid (whenever that was). Unless you turned 18 in the mid to late 1990s there is no basis for that assumption in the research. The figures I’ve referred to seem most consistent with a significant increase in teenage binge drinking in the early to mid 90s to worrying levels (and yes I do think you’re not a reasonable person if you’re not concerned about that). Can you show me figures indicating that 1/3 of 14-19 year olds drank at dangerously abusive levels monthly or more frequently in the 1980s or earlier? I’ll wager the answer is no.

    As for your final sentence “Should I support the selective taxing of products thought to have caused this non-increase?”, that simply reveals your lack of concern with the facts. The Rudd government’s recent excise increase is in fact the precise opposite of “selective taxing”. Selective taxing is what the Howard government previously did with RTD beverages. The Rudd initiative restores a system whereby all alcohol products are taxed on the same basis. The fact that you are happy to obfuscate or distort that fact doesn’t really suggest there’s much point in wasting time continuing the discussion, because it’s a fundamentally dishonest argument (unless I’m misunderstanding you in which case I’m sure you’ll be able to explain what you really meant to say).

  38. gilmae says:

    the government actually budgeted for a higher excise intake from this area so by default they think the tax wont do a thing

    The tax windfall and a reduction in the consumption of the taxed product are not mutually exclusive outcomes. Even if the number of consumers stayed static it means a tax windfall and a net reduction in purchases, since you would otherwise expect it to grow with the growth in population. Just saying.

  39. FDB says:

    Well, w/r/t the first link, as you say it’s subs only, and the teaser’s first sentence – “Teenage binge drinking is increasing significantly” – is in no way supported by what follows:

    “The report reveals that in 1998, more than two-thirds of people who drank too much on a given day were teenagers”

    Poorly worded, poor methodology or do I just not get it? And:

    “more than two-thirds of teenagers had drunk alcohol in the previous 12 months”

    That seems very low to me.

    If the body of the article actually shows what the first sentence says it does, then great, but forgive me if on the basis of the two findings given I doubt that for now.

    “Can you show me figures indicating that 1/3 of 14-19 year olds drank at dangerously abusive levels monthly or more frequently in the 1980s or earlier? Ill wager the answer is no.”

    Remind me never to go to the track with you Ken. Some wager, when you yourself have already ascertained the figures don’t go back that far. But of course, that supports YOUR conclusion, not mine, right?

    Wait… except I actually WAS a teenager in the 1980s and early 90s (as I’ve already said, mister gets-uppity-when-he-thinks-others-haven’t-read-him-thoroughly).

    “You also assume without evidence that the rates of abusive drinking are no higher than they were when you were a kid (whenever that was).”

    I’m not assuming anything. I’m doing two things:

    1) Calling bullshit on the assumption-apparently-without-evidence that they ARE higher, which has been uncritically accepted by a lot of people who should know better.

    2) Pointing out that even if there has been an increase, it’s not reasonable to assume that RTD prices will have any effect, merely because that’s what some young bingers currently purchase(d).

    3) Pointing out bizarre and anachronistic aspects of the current and new taxation regime for alcohol, which ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT “restore a system whereby all alcohol products are taxed on the same basis”. Wine is taxed ad valorem, regardless of alcohol content. Beer at a lower rate than RTDs per unit of alcohol (now MUCH lower). Spirits – well, if it’s brandy there’s an old loophole for winegrowers who overproduce, but otherwise it’s a combination of ad valorem and by alcohol content.

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