Have we become nanny state when it comes to a drink?
THANKS to high taxes and ridiculous nanny state laws, alcohol in Queensland is now believed to cost more than illicit drugs.
That's right, some pub and nightclub owners believe it is now cheaper for people to stock up on pills instead of drinking at a supervised venue.
As the cost of a rum and cola hits $9 at many late-night venues, it's not only the punters who are up in arms, it's also the publicans forced to endure constant fines and threats from Liquor Licensing officers.
One of the political parties needs to promise to rein in the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, and implement harsh penalties for those who break the law while drinking.
How about if you get into fights, abuse coppers, assault taxi drivers and smash windows when you drink, you're banned from going to any licensed venue in the state?
A "three strikes" rule would work, and that way pubs wouldn't need so much regulation, law-abiding people could go out till 5am, and those who can handle their alcohol can drink to their heart's content.
At the moment, good people are being treated like the bad guys.
At $9 a shot for spirits, a 700mL bottle is worth $207 which is ridiculous. So are nightclubs ripping us off or are they forced to charge that to make a profit?
Probably a bit of both, but there's no doubt that if governments cut taxes, and slashed red tape and overzealous enforcement, licensees' costs would come down and they could afford to sell booze cheaper.
Not to mention the fact they would be able to entice customers by offering cheap drinks, which they can't do.
Anyone who has travelled overseas knows grog in Australia is ridiculously overpriced.
This is due to factors including:
* The costs to pubs of meeting scores of regulatory requirements which are passed on to customers;
* Taxes that add an estimated $21 to a 700mL bottle of spirits and $15 to a carton of heavy beer;
* Laws prohibiting licensees from selling cheap alcohol.
Publicans fear that because drugs are cheaper than grog, more people will put themselves and others at risk by getting off their heads on pills.
The other issue is that it encourages people to "preload" on booze at home before they head out so they're turning up in public already drunk.
One publican told me recently: "Surely it's better for people to drink at my hotel where drinks are measured and there is security."
He then showed me his pub's smoking area with big-screen TVs but he can't switch them on because pubs in Queensland aren't allowed to have entertainment in smoking areas.
He's also working 100 hours a week to save on staff wages just so he can give himself a reasonable wage.
He's invested his life savings into a legal business but the government is making it as tough as possible for him to be successful.
Another publican received a warning letter because a sign in the pub promoting booze was partially visible from the footpath.
"I see Liquor Licensing all the time across the road taking photos of the pub," he added.
"I'm treated like I sell crack to kids. All these rules will cause the death of the Australian pub."
And he's right. Why bother going to the pub if your drinks cost a relative fortune and you can't even have a smoke while you watch the footy? May as well stay home.
A Queensland nightclub manager is also at his wits' end.
His venue employs more security guards than required by law.
"But Liquor Licensing will investigate us even if the police arrest someone outside," he said.
"It's in our best interests to provide a safe venue, so we're happy to invest in security measures but we're constantly treated like the bad guys."
These are yet more examples of out-of-touch bureaucrats making decisions based on emotional arguments that go unchallenged by politicians who are too lazy to find the truth, or too scared to stand up to the hand-wringers.
They speak to licensees but do nothing about the issues raised, and now we pay $9 for a 30mL shot and have to go home before we're ready.
And the above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the list of grievances licensees have with the OLGR.