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Special membership offer expires this Friday

This is the last week to take advantage of the Institute of Public Affairs’ special membership offer.

All new members who sign up by Friday 20 September will receive a bonus free book, Really Dangerous Ideas. Edited by Gary Johns and featuring essays from many current and former IPA staff, Really Dangerous Ideas  canvasses radical policy ideas like privatising the ABC and abolishing the Human Rights Commission. New members also get to choose between one of three standard free books as part of their new membership pack.

The IPA would not be able to run important projects like FreedomWatch if it wasn’t for the generous support of our wonderful members. As of this week, we had 3,545 individuals committed to the cause of freedom in Australia. The more members the IPA has, the more the IPA can do to fight fore freedom in Australia.

To join them, simply visit http://join.ipa.org.au/specialoffer/ and enter the code “membership”.

Remember to act by Friday 20 September if you don’t want to miss out on this special offer.

Free book: ‘No: The Case Against Canberra’s Local Government Power Grab’

NOVAK_No-COVERfinalBefore Kevin Rudd called the federal election for Saturday 7 September, the IPA was leading the fight against the local government referendum.

We produced this one page factsheet and this popular YouTube video about the dangers of giving Canberra even more power over our lives.

We also planned to publish a book by IPA Senior Fellow Dr Julie Novak, No: The Case Against Canberra’s Local Government Power Grab.

Julie Novak has written the comprehensive, definitive case against amending the constitution to recognise local government. She covers every single argument for and against the referendum in 54 pages of powerful analysis.

By calling the election for 7 September, Kevin Rudd stopped the referendum – for now. But that doesn’t mean a future parliament won’t resurrect this dangerous idea. To ensure that does not happen, we’ve already sent copies of Julie’s book to every federal member of parliament.

If you would like a free copy of the book, simply email your mailing address to Hannah Pandel at the IPA at hpandel@ipa.org.au.

Special offer: join the IPA before 20 September

Right now the IPA is running a special membership offer.

Sign up before Friday 20 September and you’ll receive a bonus free book – Really Dangerous Ideas edited by Gary Johns and featuring essays by many current and former IPA staff.

IPA membership helps support important projects like FreedomWatch. All of the IPA’s work is funded by the voluntary contributions made by our members and donors.

But joining the IPA doesn’t just help us to be Australia’s loudest voice for freedom. IPA members also receive four editions every year of our award winning magazine, the IPA Review - and much more.

To find out more about IPA membership – and to sign up online, visit: http://join.ipa.org.au/specialoffer/ and enter the code “membership”. But remember to act before Friday 20 September to get your bonus free book.

Free speech events in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney

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High profile court cases like Andrew Bolt’s, crazy proposed laws like Nicola Roxon’s and outrageous plans to stifle dissent like Stephen Conroy’s prove that freedom of speech is under threat in Australia.

Over the last year the Institute of Public Affairs has been conducting a nationwide Freedom of Speech Tour. So far we’ve visited Hobart, Launceston and Brisbane.

Next month we’re continuing the tour to Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.

Come along and hear what you can do to help defend free speech. IPA staff Chris Berg, Simon Breheny and John Roskam will be joined by very special guest speakers in each city. And every attendee gets a free copy of Chris Berg’s book, In Defence of Freedom of Speech: From Ancient Greece to Andrew Bolt.

The details of the events are:

  • Perth: Wednesday 11 September, 5.00pm for 5.30pm – 7.00pm, Mercure Perth, 10 Irwin Street. Featuring special guest Nick Cater, author of The Lucky Culture and columnist with The Australian. RSVP here.
  • Adelaide: Thursday 12 September, 5.00pm for 5.30pm – 7.00pm Mercure Grosvenor, 125 North Terrace, Adelaide. Featuring special guest Nick Cater, author of The Lucky Culture and columnist with The Australian. RSVP here.
  • Sydney: Tuesday 24 September, 5.00pm for 5.30pm – 7.00pm, Mercure Sydney, 818-820 George Street. Featuring special guest Janet Albrechtsen, columnist with The Australian. RSVP here.

Attendance is free for IPA members (if you’re not yet a member, join here) and $20 for non-members.

Dates for Melbourne and Canberra will be announced soon.

Nanny State policy is bad politics too

Yesterday Julie Novak warned the Rudd government that using Nanny State taxes to fix his budget deficit was a bad idea.

Today at a press conference Kevin Rudd has given a strong hint he’s planning to do exactly that.

He would do well to read this August 2012 IPA Review article by Christian Kerr:

It only rated a brief mention at the start of the 2010 Victorian state election campaign, but a leaked Labor strategy document revealed fears the party was vulnerable to a backlash on Nanny State issues.

‘White males aged between 30 and 50′, along with farmers and regional city residents-the voters who so unexpectedly tipped Jeff Kennett out in 1999-were angry at speed camera fines and a perception that they lived under excessive government regulation.

Galaxy polling taken for the Institute of Public Affairs last year found a majority of Australians-55 per cent-believe the country is becoming a Nanny State with too much government intervention and control of people’s day to day lives. The figure was unchanged from 18 months before, when the question had last been asked.

What had changed, however, was the vehemence with which voters agreed with the proposition. ‘In the latest study, 29 per cent strongly agreed that Australia is becoming a Nanny State, up from 24 per cent last year,’ Galaxy reported.

The increase appeared to reflect policy debates over tobacco plain packaging, alcopops and preventive health measures that had left respondents unimpressed.

‘The majority of Australians do not believe that plain packaging will be effective in reducing consumption for a range of products,’ Galaxy found. ‘Overall, 66 per cent do not believe that plain packaging will be effective in reducing consumption of cigarettes, little different to fast food (68 per cent) and alcohol (74 per cent).’

Nanny State tax increases are not just bad policy – they’re bad politics too.

A bad day for the Nanny State in the UK

Individual responsibility and common-sense prevail in the United Kingdom as the government rejects two Nanny State measures:

A proposed law to force firms to sell cigarettes in plain packets will be scrapped today.

Ministers have spent over a year considering the idea, which campaigners say is backed by a majority of MPs and the public.

But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will tell Parliament there is not enough evidence it would have a significant impact.

It comes as the Home Office also prepares to scrap its planned ban on two-for-one drinks deals, another measure aimed at improving public health.

Let’s hope Australia follows suit and stops our own embrace of paternalism.

A biased public broadcaster?

There is nothing more undemocratic that taxpayers’ money being spent to push one side of the ideological divide, as Chris Berg has written recently in the IPA Review.

But that’s exactly what happens when public broadcasters like the BBC tilt to the left in the UK, as this revealing article in The Telegraph yesterday argued:

Helen Boaden, the BBC’s former director of news, who is now the head of radio, admitted that in the past the culture at the corporation meant that staff had failed to take campaign groups such as Migrationwatch seriously.

She made the comments in a report commissioned by the BBC Trust, which found that the corporation had also been “slow” to reflect increasing public opposition to Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The report found that despite the rise of the UK Independence Party, the BBC conducted fewer interviews with party members in 2012 than it did in 2007.

Stuart Prebble, a former chief executive of ITV and author of the report, warned that the corporation might still be failing to report public concerns accurately.

There’s nothing wrong with a private media outlet taking a strong editorial stance, adopting a philosophical world-view or campaigning for an issue or a cause. In fact, it often makes them much more interesting, vibrant and lively. If their readers don’t like it, they can always switch off and stop buying their service.

But media outlets that are funded by the taxpayer have a very different obligation. Taxpayers’ have no choice whether they fund them or not. There’s no way to opt out of financially supporting their work. That’s why public broadcasters must be pluralistic, free of bias and rigorously even handed in their reporting.

This is just one more piece of evidence that the BBC has failed to do so, and its a critique that could be equally applied to ‘our’ ABC. Chris Kenny at The Australian made this point powerfully earlier this week.

Achieving a bias-free ABC or BBC though is not an easy task. Both have an ingrained culture that would be almost impossible to turn around. And the very nature of government funding, insulating them from their audiences, means that public broadcasters will inevitably end up as the BBC and ABC are today.

The only answer to this problem is to cease taxpayer funding, and privatise them. Then they would be free to be as biased as they wish – with their own money, not taxpayers’.

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