The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saying Something is Un-Australian is Un-Australian

Do you like to gamble? Do you like to "have a punt"? Do you like to piss all of your money away every week? Do you like to go into debt? Do you like you children to starve, all so your local footy club can install gold-plated toilets? Well, if you don't, YOU'RE UN-AUSTRALIAN!

Yes, you knew I'd have to talk about it eventually: the pokies crap we've had to put up with since the last federal election. For those unaware, basically the government wants to curb problem gambling in Australia, and they're focusing their efforts on "pokies" (slot machines). There's a number of ways they're considering doing it, but the most likely was going to be mandatory pre-commitment, i.e., you tell the machine how much you're going to lose before you give up.

Makes sense, right? After all, nobody gambles in order to lose money, so once you've hit your limit, the machine forces you to stop, and you walk away with still enough money to buy, you know, food for your children.

So I was a a bit surprised when I saw advertisements like this suddenly pop up everywhere...

 




And tying it all together is the call to action, a website that just screams thoughtful and mature:


Yup, that's right folks! Apparently, if people can't lose colossal amounts of money on pokies, then society will break down! Seriously though, I can't recall ever having seen a more obnoxious series of advertisements. You don't have to have an advertising degree to tell that there are two basic messages here:
  1. Introducing mandatory pre-commitment pokies will lower the revenue of clubs
  2. Introducing such a scheme is against the values of Australia
First, let's look at point number one: yes, the clubs probably will lose money. But you know what? Tough. Quite simply, local sports clubs are not casinos, they are SPORTS CLUBS. They exist not to be a community hub for gambling, but to support whichever sports team they're attached to. I simply cannot accept that of all the billions of dollars clubs rake in thanks to pokies, all of it goes to subsidising food, drink and junior sport.

"But what if some of the money goes to junior sport? Isn't that worth it, then?" Quite simply, no. There's so many things wrong with money raised through gambling to support children I don't even know where to begin. Why not have, I don't know, a bake sale to raise money? A sausage sizzle? Even a raffle? (which, I know, is still gambling, but you stand to lose a lot less in a raffle than a poker machine). Isn't that more... Australian?

But onto the second point: the common theme, throughout all of these ads, is that the proposed laws are "Un-Australian". It's un-Australian to restrict people's gambling, is it? Well, I did some research here. I had a look at the Australian constitution on the Parliament House website. And the values of Australia from the Department of Immigration. Nowhere did I find a reference to pissing away money on gambling being part of Australia!

So how on Earth can the clubs reasonably claim that what the government is proposing is un-Australian? The answer is as obvious as it is depressing: because it works. The clubs somehow scrounged up billions of dollars for a gigantic advertising campaign to convince everyone the proposed laws were a bad idea (where they got the money from, I have no idea) and now, the government has backed down and said they'll be modifying the laws.

I am actually quite offended as to how well this advertising campaign worked. Why? Because most people don't even care about the damn legislation. At the time of writing, "It's Un-Australian" (the official page) on Facebook has 5 858 likes (an insignificant amount, for those of you unfamiliar with Facebook), which is just 0.03% of the population of Australia. For comparison, the page "Australia Needs An R18+ Classification On Video Games!" has a staggering 24 314 likes - almost five times the amount of "It's Un-Australian".

So, obviously, when you see something you don't like, the solution is to just say it's un-Australian. It doesn't matter if said activity is not actually part of Australia's culture, you just have to associate it with things that are part of Australia's culture (like beer, sport and clubs), and hey presto, you win! This gives me an idea...




© 2012 by The Free Man
Postscript: If you'd like a more humourous take on the pokies legislation, check out The Chaser's discussion of the issue.