Nanny Bill’s new plan to save our children

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Nanny Bill Shorten has a new plan to save our children.

In the name of “tackling inequality“, Labor have announced a $40.9 million splurge on swimming lessons for primary school students.

As usual with paternalistic policies it won’t achieve very much.

Despite popular misconceptions, most drownings are not because people don’t know how to swim; rather, they involve intoxicated adults, pre-existing medical conditions, and people aged over 55 who misjudge their strength.

Swimming lessons for 6 to 12 year olds also don’t address the ultimate childhood water concern: toddlers falling into pools. This requires careful parental supervision, not a national government programme.

Nevertheless, ignoring Labor’s mid-election campaign populist scaremongering, we are actually doing quite well in this field.

The number of drownings in Australia has been trending downwards, from 1.64 per 100,000 in 2003, to 1.15 today. In 2014-15 there were zero drownings by those aged 10 to 17 – the age group most recently exposed to existing swimming lessons. According to the World Health Organisation, Australia’s drowning rate is amongst the lowest in the world.

This success is largely thanks to our culture of water safety encouraged by volunteer organisations such as Surf Life Saving Australia. Their Nippers programme has been so successful it is now being exported across the world, with the recently formed Surf Life Saving Israel using our techniques.

However, Nanny Bill doesn’t have any respect for successful civil society organisations, or parents who take responsibility for supervising and teaching their children how to swim. Instead, he wants to tell us how to raise our children.

What’s next? Can we trust parents to teach their kids how to eat and dress? Shall we put $50 million into a National Potty Training Initiative?

Labor’s paternalistic record is strong. The Rudd government sought to introduce a mandatory internet filter to block supposedly offensive content. This proposal, which would have massively slowed the internet and been easy to bypass, was justified in the name of protecting children.

Rather than relying on parents to monitor their children’s online activity, they looked to draconian measures that would have punished everyone.

Labor also don’t think parents can make appropriate dietary or healthcare decisions for their children.

In 2011, the Gillard government formed the Australian National Preventive Health Agency which investigated children’s exposure to advertising for unhealthy food and drinks, and was developing guidelines on healthy eating before it was abolished by the current government. Meanwhile, the Labor party’s national platform explicitly calls for “health care interventions in the lives of children”.

Labor seeks to replace the core responsibility of parents, to educate, guide and protect their children, with measures designed by Canberra bureaucrats.

A core element of living in a free society is the ability of parents to raise their own children without excessive interference. It is no coincidence that 20th century communists and fascists sought to meld children in their ideological image. Liberty ends when the state takes responsibility for raising children.

Yes, as Q&A questioner Duncan Storrar shows us, not every parent is perfect. There are certain extreme cases where children must be taken out of inappropriate circumstances. Nevertheless, these situations are the rare exception to the overall rule.

This election we must seriously ask ourselves what type of society we want to live in, and role of the government within that society.

Do we want paternalistic policies, like those proposed by Nanny Bill, or do we want to maintain the basic right to raise our own children?

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Good news everyone: Uber has been legalised in Victoria

In a mammoth slap-down of government holding back progress, Uber is now effectively legal in Victoria.

As reported on FreedomWatch last November, Nathan Brenner became the first Uber driver in Victoria to be found guilty of driving a hire car without a commercial licence or registration. This ruling effectively made the service as a whole illegal.

However, Brenner refused to commit to not continue driving, and appealed the case.

A County Court judge has now overturned the original ruling, and ordered the Victorian government to pay Brenner’s legal costs.

This is fantastic news for all Victorians, who will be able to continue benefiting from the sharing economy.

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Once again: spending more does not improve educational outcomes

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In classic Labor style Bill Shorten opened the federal election campaign by re-announcing his promise to increase schools funding by $3.8 billion.

However, a report discussed in The Australian ($) last week has once again rubbished the notion that spending more will improve our educational outcomes:

Australia spends $132,945, on average, to educate a student from primary school to Year 10 — double the $66,463 spent on students in Shanghai and 40 per cent more than the $93,630 cost in South Korea, the latest comparative OECD data shows. More than half the students in Shanghai and nearly a third of Korean students top the class internationally in maths — compared with just one in seven Australian students.

One in five Australian students failed the minimum standard in maths in the OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), compared with 3 per cent of Shanghai students and 9 per cent of Korean teenagers.

The simple reality is that blindly increasing expenditure, from Rudd-Gillard government’s ‘education revolution’ to the Gonski funding model, has failed to improve educational outcomes.

We need a back-to-basics approach which priorities high quality teaching methods, as well as rewarding capable teachers with performance based pay, if we are going to have any chance of keeping up with our Asian neighbors.

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Sanity prevails: Evangelical Union at USyd won’t be deregistered

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The University of Sydney Union has abandoned their plan to deregister the Evangelical Union.

Faith-based societies at the University of Sydney were facing deprivation of monetary resources and access to campus facilities over their requirement that members be Christian.

However, in a big win for freedom of association on campus, the union announced in a media statement today that faith based clubs and societies would be able to decide the conditions of their membership:

After long and thoughtful consultation with our religious communities on campus, the University of Sydney Union Board of Directors resolved at the April Board Meeting to amend the C&S Regulations to allow faith based declarations as a condition of membership and Executives of faith based clubs registered under the USU C&S program.

The Board has listened to its members and acknowledges the importance of such declarations to some of our faith based clubs and societies.

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Venezuela: A modern socialist catastrophe

A typical Venezuelan supermarket with empty shelves: price controls have lead to massive shortages

A typical Venezuelan supermarket with empty shelves: price controls have lead to massive shortages

The situation in Venezuela is going from bad to worse.

A once relatively prosperous nation has succumb to the worst failings of a socialist system.

Joel Hirst, a Venezuelan living in the United States, has written an extraordinary blog post on the latest from his birth country:

Tonight there are no lights. Like the New York City of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, the eyes of the country were plucked out to feed the starving beggars in abandoned occupied buildings which were once luxury apartments.

They blame the weather – the government does – like the tribal shamans of old who made sacrifices to the gods in the hopes of an intervention.

There is no food either; they tell the people to hold on, to raise chickens on the terraces of their once-glamorous apartments.

There is no water – and they give lessons on state TV of how to wash with a cup of water.

The money is worthless; people now pay with potatoes, if they can find them.

Doctors operate using the light of their smart phones; when there is power enough to charge them. Without anesthesia, of course – or antibiotics, like the days before the advent of modern medicine.

The phone service has been cut – soon the internet will go and an all-pervading darkness will fall over a feral land.

Venezuela’s impending collapse is directly linked to the policy failures of Hugo Chavez and his socialist successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Continue Reading →

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Australians want less spending, not more tax

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Last week “the fatuous 50” of usual left-wing suspects were calling for higher taxes and more spending, a move supported by The Age editorial yesterday.

As usual, the elites are out of step with mainstream opinion. A special question in Newspoll released yesterday has revealed Australians actually want a reduction in government spending, not more taxes:

A special Newspoll question found 39 per cent of voters believe the priority for the next government should be to reduce spending to pay down debt, with 59 per cent of Coalition voters backing this option, but just 27 per cent of Labor voters.

Reducing spending and using the money to cut taxes was backed by 26 per cent, with the result consistent across the political parties, including the Greens, where 24 per cent support tax cuts despite the party’s official position being to increase taxes.

Some 23 per cent supported increasing spending on government programs, with this option the most favoured among Labor voters (35 per cent) and Greens supporters (41 per cent), but by only one in 10 Coalition voters

A whopping 65 per cent of Australian voters support reducing government spending, to be spent on either reducing debt or lower taxes.

Australia’s public expenditure as a percentage of GDP has now surpassed the levels at the height of the GFC in 2007-08. The latest budget update revealed our national debt will reach $667 billion in the next 10 years, around $30,000 per a person. Our spending has reached extraordinary levels, placing a massive burden on future generations to pay back today’s excesses.

The message from the Australian people is clear: the government has a spending problem. The Turnbull government’s foremost responsibility in the upcoming budget is to fix it.

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Now the wowsers want a tax on soft drinks

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Last week they were calling for an increase in the the drinking age, this week our friendly neighborhood Nanny Statists want a tax on soft drinks.

ABC News reports on a research from the Obesity Policy Coalition, the Cancer Council and Diabetes Victoria calling for a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks:

“Even a small change in consumption can have a big impact over time; a small change in body mass index and weight can have a big impact on someone’s health outcomes,” Jane Martin, from the Obesity Policy Coalition said.

“This would have a bigger impact on people who are high consumers, so particularly young people, and they’re more price sensitive.

“The potential to change behaviour in adolescents … who are high consumers, drink a lot of soft drink, that can be very impactful because that can take them through the rest of their life and change habits early.”

Continue Reading →

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University of Queensland Union cupcake stunt perfectly illustrates progressive hypocrisy

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The University of Queensland has been thrown into spotlight by a ‘Feminist Week’ bake sale stunt.

The UQ Union is charging people different amounts for cupcakes depending on their gender, race and sexuality. The UQ Union website explains the principles of the bake sale:

Specific to each faculty, each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods with cost you $1.00!).

For example, if you are a woman of colour in the legal profession, a baked good at the stall will only cost you 55 cents!

Ironically, as one student commented on a student Facebook group page, the union may be contradicting state and federal anti-discrimination law in the process.

The very people who are usually the most stringent supporters of anti-discrimination laws are themselves discriminating. The hypocrisy never ends.

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First they came for the Evangelicals, now they’re coming for the Catholics

The University of Sydney Union is at it again, this time targeting the 88-year old Catholic Society over the requirement that executive members are Catholic.

In a repeat of the situation facing the Evangelical Union, the Catholic Society is facing deregistration because of their “discriminatory” policy.

The Australian reports on this latest attack on freedom of association on campus:

“It’s a surreal situation,” ­society president Francis Tamer said. “We have been told we are discriminating against people ­because you have to be Catholic to be on the executive. Of course you do — we are the Catholic ­Society.”

One of the university’s best known Catholic alumni, Tony Abbott, agrees, saying “it seems like a hell of a double standard” given that Sydney University has long offered both a “women’s room” and a Koori Centre for ­indigenous students…

Similarly, Liberal and Labor clubs on campus have pointed out that they would expect their members to be Labourites and Liberals.

In the other ongoing case at Sydney University, the Evangelical Union voted 71-1 to not remove their requirement that voting members identify with Jesus Christ.

In response, the Union has delayed the decision to deregister the Evangelical Union, stating that the final decision is yet to be made due to legal complexity.

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Fixing the federation: sharing income tax with the states

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Australia’s federation is broken. Power has been excessively centralised. States cannot fund their services. And the blame game between the states and the Commonwealth is never ending.

In very exciting news, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that the federal government will be pursuing a policy of sharing income tax revenue with the states:

Under existing laws the Federal Government is the sole recipient of income tax. The Prime Minister wants to reach agreement with the states to lower the percentage of tax collected federally, allowing the states to collect a portion of income tax funds directly.

“We would withdraw from a certain amount of income tax that would be available to the states and we would agree that that would be the maximum they would levy for a period,” he said.

Mr Turnbull went on to acknowledge he would not be able to control whether the states increased the percentage of tax collected in the long term.

This proposal spurs from the ongoing debate over how to most effectively fund health, as well as education, in the long run.

Let’s go back to first principles.

The idea of dividing powers between a central government and regional governments is one of practical good governance.

Central governments should only undertake roles that cannot be more effectively completed at a lower level—by those with the most knowledge and relevance to the policy.

The federal government should not be directing the picking up of rubbish, local councils should not be interfering in foreign policy.

However, governments can only be accountable and responsive to local needs if they are collecting their own revenue—a feature seriously lacking in Australia’s federation.

In 1901 the states collected 87 per cent of government revenue. One hundred years later this has decreased to below 20 per cent. Nevertheless, the states are still largely responsible for delivering substantial services, including schools, hospitals and public transport.

To address this imbalance the federal government provides over $100 billion in payments to the states every year. This represents about a quarter of the federal budget, and around half of state budgets. By comparison, American states receive about 22 per cent of their revenue from the federal government, and Canadian provinces around 17 per cent.

The centralisation of revenue has led to the loss of many of the benefits of a federal system. Our states, tied to federal government dictations, are increasingly unable to be innovative or be responsive to local needs.

There is an ongoing blame game between the federal government and the states — the Commonwealth blames the states for lacklustre service delivery, states blame the federal government for lack of revenue.

There is excessive duplication, overlap and high administrative costs.

If successfully implemented, giving the states a share of income tax could seriously improve our federation.

It would finally allow the states to fund their own services, allowing voters to assess where their money is going and hold the respective level of government to account. It would enable beneficial competition between states to provide the most services at the lowest tax rate.

A state income tax will help us once again receive the benefits of a federal system that our constitutional framers envisaged.

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