The drinking age in Australia was lowered to 18 from 21 during the Vietnam War. It was argued that if 18-year-olds could be conscripted, they should surely have the right to vote and drink. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? It did to a whole lot of people back then. Ironically the sort who pushed for lowering the legal age are the same sort of people who today are pushing to raise the drinking age back to 21. It’s too damned late, I say. The publicans won’t allow it; the do-gooder civil rights mob will shout blue murder. There are too many self-interested people allowed to stick their noses into our business.

At eighteen you’re just getting the hang of politics if you’re interested and mostly you’re more interested in girls / boys at that age. And I can’t imagine why it was so important to push booze on children. As for conscription, if it was at all ever necessary it would have made more sense to raise the age of conscription rather than lower the drinking age. Boys and girls of 18 are legally men and women now thanks to that change.

Why I’m thinking about it now is that we have something called schoolies week in this country. It is supposedly a rite of passage for year 12 high school students. It’s been said, probably by the same sort of people who once pushed for lowering the drinking age, that it represents a transitional period from youth to adulthood. Basically it is an excuse for a week long binge. High-school graduates mostly 18, some are seventeen, converge on Queensland’s Gold Coast for a week and get blotto.  Imagine the impact of hundreds of drunken teens packed together like a bunch of sardines. Imagine all those hormones let loose. Imagine all those lowered inhibitions.  Every year there are injuries and deaths and brawls.  This year a 17 year old girl died from a balcony fall.

Parents tear their hair out not knowing how to stop their legally of age kids from going. They’ve spent almost two decades loving and nurturing these teens, now they have to hope they come home safely from schoolies week. How ridiculous is that?

I’m not sure how to end this tirade except to say that it’s up to angry parents to stare the politicians down and the publicans and the committees and subcommittees and the so called experts. It’s time it to recognise that 18 year olds are still children. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Because how are today’s adults going to like being demoted to tomorrow’s children? It’s a damned mess, isn’t it? Here’s a lesson learned for us all. If something that’s being put about that sounds interesting,examine it from all angles before accepting it. And even then, accept it provisionally till all the chicks have come home to roost.

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