As you might imagine, the news media is all over the South Auckland = badlands and haven for drunken no-hopers story.
In the Weekend Herald [21 June], reporter Yvonne Tahana has a half-page with two stories under two booze-soaked headlines.
Her language is deliberately poetic under the circumstances:
Cheap alcohol is the result of competition. Pour that into one of the most socio-economically deprived areas in the country and it’s been a cocktail for trouble, community leaders say.
The missing link here is “socio-economically deprived”. The problem is not the alcohol, but the deprivation. Drinking to excess is a symptom, not the cause of the issues.
Luckily I was able to find a shot glass of sense inside the Herald too. John Armstrong’s column was a sober assessment of the situation and it’s worth reading.
It’s unlikely that my post from Friday [Vote 1 Laura Norder, 20 June] had any influence at all on John Armstrong’s column. He was probably writing it at the same time as I was generating that blog entry. However, his sentiments are similar to mine.
Now, for the second time in six months, Labour has been confronted with a spate of murders which has again induced near-hysteria over law and order policy in some quarters and enabled National to come out of hiding and box Labour around the ears.
John’s also actually bothered to check the figures on crime in the southern fringes of Auckland:
The number of homicides nationwide has dropped from 109 to 88 in the past two years. There were eight homicides in the Counties-Manukau police district last year compared to 27 in 2006.
Overall, on a population basis, recorded offences in Counties-Manukau have fallen since Labour took office. The number of violent offences has risen, but much of the increase is put down to increased reporting of domestic assaults.
But these aren’t the numbers that count here, as John Armstrong points out the real numbers games is bums on seats in the parliament that will be elected later in the year. Armstrong is right to point out that three tragic deaths are being exploited by both sides of politics. He describes it as “shroud waving” and that’s a great way to look at it.
Numbers were also prominent in Yvonne Tahana’s stories too, but in that case they didn’t actually support the menacing tone of the headlines. There’s a break-out box in the print edition that’s a simple list in the online version of the story. I’ve republished it here, because it’s worth looking at closely and commenting on. The list shows how many licensed premises there are in various Auckland suburbs and relates that to a population head count. This is probably not a very scientific method, but it does show some interesting contrasts
One for every 655 people
One for every 470
One for every 685
One for every 542
One for every 193
One for every 470 people
One for every 328 people
One for every 273 people
District Licensing Agencies, Manukau District Council, Auckland District Council, Papakura District Council
In southern and western areas of the greater Auckland district there are less liquor outlets per head of population than on the North Shore and in Tauranga; both of which are much wealthier suburbs and a lot less “brown” too. Does this undermine the headline “South awash with cheap liquor”?
I’m also shocked that the people we trust with running the country have also got such easy access to vast amounts of liquor. One of the licensed premises in Wellington is likely to be the private dining room in Parliament House where good quality booze is available at south Auckland prices to the good and the great.
As I said in a recent post, the stench of political hypocrisy on this story is stronger than the booze on the breath of a drink-driving politician.
I’d be more interested in a story that exposed the fact that the people of Manakau and Waitakere are forced to drink crap gin, vodka, brandy and scotch.
It’s not even Sunday yet! This might get you to the morning, then be ready for a new batch of freshly hyped coverage.