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Jane Stephens: professionals should be alcohol-free on or around the job

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Ban the booze for our decision makers, those who the public depends on and the ones who are paid to be physically excellent for our entertainment.

Have a requirement of having no alcohol in their systems when they are on the job or representing their workplaces.

Demand clear heads and responsible conduct.

This is not too much to expect and it is long overdue – delayed only by a lack of courage and the fear of appearing controlling and heavy handed.

But drinking on or around the job can be destructive, potentially embarrassing and fraught with danger.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

Just ask the Broncos captain and vice-captain, or Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce.

It is too often just a matter of time before something goes south – whether in the form of an inappropriate comment, a humiliating interaction in public or a car crash.

Politician Barnaby Joyce, pictured in Parliament House, took leave after a late-night incident in Canberra. Picture: AAP

The time to be precious about a person’s ‘right’ to drink has passed, spoken about as if alcohol is a need when there is not a skerrick of evidence to show it aids performance or sharpens the mind.

What it is is an accepted, legalised drug; a social elixir and mixer; a habitual relaxant.

But I do not know a single adult over 40 who has not at some point examined their relationship with it or taken the tough step of committing to a period without it to reset.

It is banned for those who operate heavy machinery, including those in the mines, and police, pilots and bus drivers can’t have alcohol on board.

So, why are we so sensitive about demanding others with great responsibilities to be cognisant and mentally sharp?

Our councillors and members of Parliament make rules and laws we must all live by.

Surely it is not too much to expect that they don’t have wine with their lunch or a champagne at a ribbon cutting?

Adam Reynolds, pictured playing for the Broncos, was involved in a late-night scuffle with his teammate. Picture: AAP

Our professional sportspeople are paid a motza to perform at a high level, to wow us with their skill and speed.

Their contracts should include the need to do these things with a clean system and a mind on their job.

It is certainly not to say that every person who imbibes is drunk or lacking control – and I love a glass of something as much as the next person.

But by its nature, alcohol mars perception and loosens us up.

These are not traits we want in those who carry great professional responsibility.

Dr Jane Stephens is a UniSC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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