Let’s start with banana skins. Slipping on them is extremely dangerous. Latest figures show that over 63% of people who slipped on a banana skin suffered spinal injury, paraplegia, concussion or some form of brain damage. The cost of looking after a person who has slipped on a banana peel can run into the millions of dollars, including medical equipment, mobility assistance, physiotherapy and home care. Yet everyday literally thousands of bananas are sold throughout Australia with scant regard for the damage they can do. At the very least, we should be encouraging people not to eat bananas without adequate grip on their footwear or protective padding and head gear.
Supermarkets should place barriers around the banana aisles to protect their employees, and banana growers should be forced to pay a levy towards the victims of peel slippage. TV shows featuring real or dramatized versions of people slipping on banana skins for the purposes of visual entertainment should either be banned outright or at the very least only be shown after midnight so as not to encourage copycat ‘slippings’ from impressionable youth or slapstick comedians.
Fines, including stiff prison sentences, should apply to people who deliberately or inadvertently place a banana peel on a perambulatory surface for malicious or comedic purposes. The consumption of bananas should be discouraged where possible, with peel stickers depicting people in wheelchairs or in traction visibly displayed upon each piece of fruit.
Smaller bananas, such as lady fingers, are not exempt and must at the very least display the “banana peels can lead to spinal injury” government warning and Department of Public Health logo.
Sounds absurd? Not nearly as ridiculous as some of the many health and safety regulations that the nanny state has already inflicted upon people here and overseas.
Such as the fireman who couldn’t change a little old lady’s smoke alarm because he’s not allowed to stand on a chair at work.
The school Christmas party cancelled because there were no nut allergy warnings on the mince pies.
The taxi drivers who cancelled their annual outing for needy kids because each cab would need a risk assessment, each child would have to be accompanied by an adult, and each adult would need a six-week criminal record check.
A mother fined for feeding the ducks at her local park because of complaints about children slipping over on their way to school on duck turds.
The library where you can take your laptop but can't plug it in without an electrician’s licence.
The school where kids can bring frisbees to the playground but they can't throw them; they must run to each other with the frisbee and hand it across.
Parents banned from supervising their children at a playground in case they are pedophiles.
Council workers permitted to enter peoples homes to check that the children’s toys are safe to play with.
A policewoman banned from looking after her neighbors child because she was not a registered child minder.
Council workers using anti-terror laws to catch a man who had illegally pruned a tree.
Parents not allowed to drop their kids off outside the school in order to force them to walk up the hill in order to “tackle childhood obesity.”
Thinly cut chips being banned because thick cut chips are relatively healthier
Public address loops that endlessly announce such profundities as:
DO NOT STAND NEAR THE YELLOW LINE AS THE TRAIN APPROACHES
PLEASE BE CAREFUL AS THE PLATFORM COULD BE WET IF IT RAINS
HOLD ONTO THE HANDRAIL
Do we need this stuff? Are we not capable of recognizing a handrail and understanding what its function is? Do we really need a nanny state to choose the cut of our chips?
Of course not, but the nanny state is a bit like the Rolling Stones. It’s a powerful, well-funded gigantic machine that had a couple of great ideas back in the 60’s and now doesn’t know when to stop.
Once you’ve moved past the early big hits – namely tobacco and seatbelts – you quickly enter a world of Alice in Wonderland silliness and absurdity. A world where control of our own lifestyle choices has been handed over to an undemocratic cabal of academics and bureaucrats who have a vested interest in constantly coming up with new controls on our behavior. Because the areas where a nanny state can interfere are literally infinite.
Recently, the alcohol industry buckled to pressure to put health warnings onto bottles of booze. What next? Cerotic livers and peptic ulcers plastered all over every six pack of Tooheys and every bottle of Jacobs Creek? Graphic images of the morbidly obese on every Big Mac wrapper? Photos of dying diabetics on your Tim Tams?
Already, there are numerous silly rules regarding the advertising and marketing of alcohol. For example, if you use an extra in a TV ad who is under 25 you will be penalized and the ad pulled off air. Alcohol advertising may not imply in any way that drinking alcohol will, shall we say, enhance your appeal to the opposite sex. In ads screened before 9pm, people may hold a glass of alcohol in their hand but they are not allowed to drink it.
It’s the nanny state that has become intoxicated with its own success stories and never knows when it’s had enough. The nanny state, that like a drunk at a party goes on and on prodding you in the chest saying “And another thing – you cant do this. And you cant’ do that. And you shouldn’t do this.”
There is no activity anywhere that is enjoyable, challenging, adventurous or pleasurable that could not – somehow or other – require a government health restriction, warning or regulation slapped on it.
What we are facing in Australia is an ever growing mountain of regulations, restrictions, warnings and punative measures telling us what food to eat, how to dress, what pleasures we can and can’t enjoy, where and how we can entertain ourselves and ultimately, what we are allowed to do, say and one day - even think.
In the name of “public health”, or “health and safety”, an unelected, unaccountable mix of well-meaning and equally well-funded academics at the behest of jobs-for-life bureaucrats and public servants are able to sneak new legislation through the back door of government marked “nanny” - and impose upon us – without any say or electoral mandate - their ideas and their decisions.
Governments have limited resources. Sadly, every hour and every dollar wasted on this nanny state frivolity is time and money our public servants are not spending on the things that actually matter, like helping the elderly, fixing up mental health, providing carers for the disabled, building new hospitals and genuinely looking after those who need help. Nicola Roxon recently devoted hours of media time boasting about her plain packaging legislation. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw her opening the new mental health wing of a hospital.
But there is a dark, sinister side as well.
In the recent London riots, the father of a teenage looter blamed her complete lack of morality – her inability to decide for herself what is right and what is wrong – upon the nanny state. Parents, he said, are powerless to discipline their children for fear of being reported to police or social services. Every time he tries to criticize or correct his daughters behavior, she loudly accuses him or either verbal or physical abuse.
Coming here this evening on the radio was a story from Germany about a young kid who contacted authorities to complain that his mother making him do forced labour. It turned out shed insisted he do his chores.
Whether you intend to work in education, in the alcohol industry, the fast food industry, IT, the entertainment industry, sports, or simply look forward to taking pride in your everyday skills and activities such as bringing up kids or even just dropping them off at school, you should be afraid. The nanny state by definition, can never be satisfied. Because there is no end to the things that might just possibly pose a threat to us. It’s called being human.
Beware: the Nanny State can seriously damage your democratic health.