When Sir Anthony Hopkins (playing Burt Munro) urinated on his lemon tree in The World’s Fastest Indian, everyone was charmed and the movie went on to become an international success. When a Sunday newspaper ran a sleazy report claiming that an Auckland mayor had urinated behind a tree, people claimed to be shocked. And now the Wellington City Council has joined the fray, stating that “urinating” is one of the reasons why it needs to ban drinking in public places anytime anywhere in Wellington.
The council gives more details about its concern on its website, where it states that one of the problems caused by drinking in public places is “urinating and vomiting in playgrounds, shop frontages and bus shelters.”
It repeats the concern in this week’s extravagant advertisement in the Dominion Post, with a page-wide banner headline, and a huge photo as evidence of misbehaviour – showing seven empty bottles and two beer cartons in a Newtown park.
On its website the council tries harder (above) and shows 12 empty bottles near a children’s playground at an unspecified location. The photos could equally be used to campaign for a city-wide ban on rubbish.
Most of our elected city councilors voted for the public drinking ban. And the council is campaigning in favour of it. “We prefer the option of extending the 24/7 liquor ban across the entire city” states the council’s advertisement. So much for neutrality in public consultation.
A council staff member with the title “senior advisor, city safety” is responsible for organizing the consultation. The council, as it always says, is “keen to hear” what we think. Will Khandallah and Wadestown residents agree that picnics will become illegal if anyone brings wine or beer?
This week’s advertisement also says the Council is working on something called an “alcohol management plan” which will “ensure a city-wide approach to alcohol management.” Maybe the council has discovered a way of controlling weekend drunkenness in Courtenay Place, which the mid-city public drinking ban doesn’t seem to have reduced. But the council’s new plan also wants to strike “the right balance” between “the benefits of alcohol” while reducing “the costs and harm.” The benefits, one assumes, are those earned by the hospitality industry whose venues are crammed with young drinkers on Friday and Saturday nights. And where no one is planning a drinking ban.