Sunday, 21 September 2008

Consulting Missteps and Authentic Happiness

Back in the 1970's, when I was an articled clerk in Western Australia fresh out of law school, my principal instructed me to prepare cases so that all issues were out in the open and dealt with. Surprise was a junk strategy. Don't assume the opposition are dumb and won't get to all the points of argument.

Dr. Kerkin of Coomes Consulting would be wise to follow this advice. In these days where consultants have become advocates, decent cross examiners study what they say to reduce the impact of the consultant's conclusion. To assume that Mr. Tweedy, counsel for Jim Hogan, the applicant for the pokie licenses in Romsey, is not decent, is plain wrong and weakens the otherwise strong points made by her report and testimony.

Dr. Kerkin gave evidence of the balance of good and bad in granting the pokie licenses to the Romsey Hotel. Her conclusion seemed to be that the bad outweighed the good. Given her considerable qualifications, you would think she weighed all the 'good' against all the 'bad'. She might have... but she did not put it in her report.

What she forgot to mention is that some people like to gamble on the pokies and that having pokies in Romsey instead of having to drive to another pokie venue is a benefit to these people. Mr. Tweedy said that for them it was a "recreational activity like going to the movies or having a meal". Playing the pokies was an activity from which they gained pleasure. Why shouldn't it be conveniently placed?

She should have dealt with that point.

Here's one uncomplicated way Dr. Kerkin might have balanced the convenience factor. Playing the pokies is not a recreational activity like going to the movies or having a meal. It is an illegal and potentially harmful activity where it's conduct is regulated by the Government. It's not at all like going to the movies or having a meal. It's more like buying cigarettes, drinking alcohol, betting on the nags, or going to a brothel. All these recreational activities, just like pokies, are illegal unless licensed or restricted to adults.

Convenience must be balanced with the nature of the activity. If all that mattered were convenience than why not a brothel on every corner or a pokie in every fish and chip shop and newsagent? That sure would be convenience. Just think how the Victorian Community Support Fund would grow with the additional pokie taxes. It's also plainly wrong.

Dr. Kerkin also got a little lost by extending her expertise to trying to define the psychological concepts of 'happiness' and 'contentment'. She need not have gone further than the well-known grammar school located close to where she works. Geelong Grammar is conducting a pioneering and world recognised trial in teaching authentic happiness amongst its students. Click here to read about it. The study of what makes people happy was also a cover story in Time magazine. One of the points to emerge from these studies is how authentic happiness sources from doing good for a larger social cause.

Authentic happiness is a lot more than buying a new handbag. It is certainly not the lonesome activity of pressing a button every 2.4 seconds on a pokie.

1 comment:

gabi byrne said...

All decisions that our government makes in regards to pokies seem to take only one thing into consideration: REVENUE.
So I wouldn't be surprised if one day they decide to turn their commercial interest to another profitable form of entertainment,legal in Victoria called "prostitution". So then we will wake up one morning to the tune of "Wouldn't you rather be at 'the gentlemans club' with your friends," or we will receive flyers in our letterbox promoting to "bring a friend and get the first 10 minutes free" - I would hope that this would result in a general public outcry. I would hope that this would make Australians consider voicing their discust and telling the Premier, "that is immoral, this is not right" because it has the potential - just the potential to harm individuals and destroy families.
Pokies do exactly the same! Why don't we say so!
Gabi Byrne