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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

A failure to communicate

To understand why the failure of public consultation on prohibition, a policy with a historical track record of failure, is so destructive to public trust and government integrity, it is essential to delve into the underlying principles that govern societal dynamics, human behaviour, and governance.

Historically, prohibition has been a contentious policy, always resulting in unintended destructive consequences. Take, for instance, the alcohol prohibition era in the United States during the early 20th century. This period saw a rise in organised crime, bootlegging, and a general disregard for the law. It was a clear example of how good intentions could lead to adverse outcomes.

In Australia, similar patterns emerged with attempts to regulate alcohol and substances. The prohibition of drugs like marijuana and alcohol has not only failed to curb their use but has also fostered an underground market, contributing to criminal activities and straining the judicial system.

Public consultation is a cornerstone of democratic governance. It allows for the integration of public opinion in policymaking, ensuring that the laws reflect the will and the welfare of the people. However, when it comes to prohibition policies, there seems to be a disconnect between public opinion and legislative action.

In many cases, the failure of public consultation stems from a top-down approach where decisions are made without adequately gauging public sentiment or considering the practical implications of enforcement. This disconnect fosters distrust in government institutions as people feel their voices and realities are disregarded.

From a psychological perspective, prohibition challenges the inherent human trait of autonomy. When individuals perceive a law as intrusive or unjust, it leads to a lack of respect for not just the specific law but the legal system as a whole. This erosion of trust is detrimental to the fabric of society, as it undermines the mutual respect and compliance necessary for the smooth functioning of any community.

Furthermore, prohibition policies often disproportionately affect marginalized and vulnerable communities, exacerbating social inequalities and breeding resentment. This leads to a cycle of mistrust and defiance, further distancing the public from government institutions. The most common effect is an increase in crime and criminal behaviour.

Economically, prohibition leads to the creation of black markets. These markets are not only unregulated and dangerous but also result in a significant loss of potential tax revenue. The costs of enforcing prohibition laws, coupled with the loss of potential revenue, present a substantial economic burden, diverting resources from other critical areas like education and healthcare. This can be far more devastating if the government debt is at critical ratios leading to localised inflation.

In Australia, the approach to illicit drug use provides a compelling case study. The strict prohibition policies have not significantly decreased drug use at all. Instead, they have burdened the criminal justice system and fostered an illegal market rife with violence and unregulated products. This approach contrasts starkly with more successful strategies seen in countries that have adopted decriminalization and harm reduction approaches, resulting in better health outcomes and reduced strain on legal and health systems. The Northern Territories failing and over-burdened health system is a vital example of the failures of such ignorant policies.

To rebuild public trust and maintain the integrity of government institutions, a reevaluation of prohibition policies is necessary. This involves engaging in genuine public consultation, considering the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these policies, and being willing to adapt strategies in response to societal needs and realities. However, the party in power has a history of members that run away rather than face accountability for their failed and often harmful policies; a well-known example is that of the last Chief Minister Gunner, who was directly responsible for many of the policies that have hurt Territorians.

The failure of public consultation in prohibition policies is not just a matter of flawed legislation but a deeper reflection of the disconnect between government actions and public sentiment. To foster a society based on trust, respect, and integrity, it is imperative for policymakers to align their strategies with the realities and needs of the people they serve. This alignment is not just about crafting effective policies; it is fundamental to the health and sustainability of a democratic society. From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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