by Visiting Research Fellow Darryl Gobbett in Conversation with SACES
Who better to comment on SA’s regulatory environment?
Doctor Who has been travelling through space and time for more than half a century since the start of the BBC television series of the same name in 1963. The much-loved Time Lord has had many guises, most recently played by Jodie Whittaker.
The Doctor has seen a lot of social and economic change as he/she has time-travelled in the trusty Tardis, a space-craft resembling a Police phone box. So, The Doctor is now well-placed to make pertinent and perceptive judgments on many current issues, including the laws and regulations that are confronting business and constraining the local economy.
The Doctor has been accompanied recently by a fellow called Paul, who carries the same name as three winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Paul Samuelson, Paul Krugman and Paul Romer, and arguably Australia’s finest Federal Treasurer, Paul Keating.
Every now and then, The Doctor and Paul drop in to see Bruce, a long-time observer of South Australia’s politics and economy who struggles to make sense of the vagaries of the State’s rules and regulation.
The Doctor will appear on the SACES blog in coming weeks as we take a light-hearted but incisive look at the policies and politics of the past fifty years. So, sit back and enjoy the ride, and feel free to join the conversation with comments on the blog.
Home in Adelaide, late 1960s.
“Hello, 293 6440 Bruce speaking. Paul, how are you?
Yes, we’re home. Sure, you can call in but bring some petrol for the Victa.
If you and the Doctor are on your way, I won’t need to get the Kingswood out just to pick some up.”
Knock at door.
Bruce: “That was quick Paul. Good afternoon Doctor.”
Paul: “One of the benefits of time travel, Bruce. Here’s your petrol. I got it at the mega station just around the corner. We called in in 2019. Sells a lot of things, has its own bakery and barista and is open 24 hours a day.”
Bruce: “Not here in Adelaide Paul. Not even in 50 years’ time. The inspectors will be all over it like a rash. It’s illegal to bake bread in the metro area on the weekends or sell petrol after midday. There has been talk of changing the petrol laws. They seem to be a carryover from Second World War rationing. The restrictions apply only to the metro area so the farmers can still get what they need at any time.
Anyway, that eastern side of South Road is outside the designated metro area for Adelaide so the service stations set up along there and could be open all weekend.”
The Doctor: “Here’s some bread and a coffee. Great artwork from the barista. I have seen similar concoctions elsewhere but these still seem legal to sell in 2019 with caffeine in them. Your fuel selling rules seem rather unique. 25 years without a review seems rather long.”
Bruce: “Thank you. I wonder how they got approval to trade and bake on weekends and bake non-white bread. Regarding the petrol rules, it’s like most things in Adelaide, once something has been in place for a few years it becomes part of the heritage and can’t be changed.
The Doctor: “Yes, I have noticed the big vacant block of land in North Adelaide that sprung up in the 1970s. Still there when we came through in 2040 after visiting the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona which got finished in 2026. Is it part of your Government’s plan to have the longest unfinished construction site in this part of the galaxy? Dangerous sign for angry Time Lords.”
Bruce: “Not sure what you are talking about if it is not the Adelaide Oval. By the way Doctor, you see many things, how did the service station attendants handle the Tardis?
One of the arguments against changing the rules is the fear the service stations will no longer provide attendants. This could be dangerous and slow as women who drive will need their husband or brothers to choose between super and standard, fill up the car, wash the windscreens and check the oil, water and tyres.”
The Doctor: “No one came over to us. And everyone seemed to making their own decisions and putting the fuel in themselves and paying for it. Although your cash payments have disappeared. In fact, there were more women than men getting fuel from quite a range and apparently in charge of the vehicles. The only attendants were in the shops handing over the food and coffee and making bread.
Paul: “Yes, it all seemed to work quite efficiently. Like they did elsewhere even back in the 70s. And a quick look as we flew over suggested that a lot of the sites that had service stations in the 1960s and 1970s have been converted to other uses such as housing.”
Bruce: “Well I just can’t believe that Paul. By the way, I can’t believe the lawyers are in such bad shape in the 2020s that barristers are now having to make coffees and not in real cups.”