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Email: Do you love Australia? New poll shows you’re not alone

IPA commissioned poll shows Australians are proud to be Australian

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You wouldn’t know it from listening to our Australians of the Year, but regular Australians understand that this is a great country.

The key findings of a new poll reveal:

  • 91% of Australians are “proud to be Australian”
  • 85% believe that “Australia Day is a day for celebration”
  • 78% agree that “Australia has a history to be proud of”
  • 92% believe Australia is a better country than most other countries, and
  • 81% believe the “world would be a better place if other countries were more like Australia”.

And this is what the IPA had to say about the findings this week:

  • The Herald Sun on Monday covered comments from the IPA’s James Paterson;
  • James also spoke on Monday with Neil Mitchell on 3AW;
  • IPA board member Janet Albrechtsen wrote in The Australian today that “it’s still cool to be Australian” ($)
  • And the IPA’s Chris Berg wrote in The Drum about the data which shows there is much to celebrate on Australia Day.

Rita Panahi, who also referred to this poll, had an excellent article in the Herald Sun yesterday noting that there “exists a wide gulf between mainstream opinion and those espoused by virtue signalling members of the commentariat.”

To the rank of members of the commentariat we can include recent recipients of the Australian of the Year award. IPA executive director John Roskam had this to say about the latest recipient, David Morrison, used his acceptance speech to call for the abolition of Australia’s constitutional monarchy:

I think his position on the republic is entirely inappropriate. What it shows is how out of touch he and the elites are with popular opinion.

Using Australia Day to push a purely political message is getting old, and as this poll suggests, is not appreciated by everyday Australians that just want to celebrate the day.

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Email: Mark Steyn touring Australia with the IPA

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Mark Steyn is one of the world’s strongest advocates for liberty, free speech and the values of our democracy, and his site – SteynOnline – is an oasis in a desert of political correctness.

It has never been more important to stand up for freedom and the values of free society than it is today. That is why the IPA is so delighted to be bringing Mark, one of the world’s most eloquent defenders of liberty, to Australia in February 2016.

You can book your place at one of the events at http://rsvp.ipa.org.au/marksteyn/events.

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Email: Freedom of speech under attack

The latest attack on free speech – this time in Tasmania

Freedom of speech is under attack in Tasmania after the state Anti-Discrimination Commissioner decided on 13 November that a complaint against Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous should proceed to a hearing.

In particular, the Commissioner has decided the Catholic Church has a case to answer in relation to a complaint made regarding a booklet outlining the Catholic teachings on marriage distributed to parents of students enrolled at Catholic high schools across Australia.

The IPA’s Chris Berg wrote in the Sunday Age yesterday:

To be offended by the booklet is to be offended by what was, until very recently, the mainstream view on gay marriage, and one still shared by a large minority of the population… For this reason if nothing else, the complaint ought to have been dismissed as laughably frivolous.

It should never be an offence to offend a person. This is particularly chilling in light of the proposed plebiscite on the definition of marriage. As IPA Executive Director John Roskam stated in October:

A vote in a plebiscite or referendum, in which one side is not allowed to present its case, is not a legitimate vote. That’s why both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage should be concerned by the complaint against Archbishop Porteous and the Catholic Church.

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Email: Senator Eric Abetz the 14th senator to support freedom of speech

Parliamentary support for free speech continues to grow.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz (Tasmania) has encouraged his party to throw their support behind amendments to remove the words “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

See the full list of current senators who are on the record in support of changes to section 18C here.

The damage to science from global warming

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On Thursday, an important essay by Matt Ridley was published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, categorically detailing the distortion of scientific debate, and the damage to science itself, brought about by global warming alarmists.

He says:

At the heart of the debate about climate change is a simple scientific question: can a doubling of the concentration of a normally harmless, indeed moderately beneficial, gas, from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.06% of the atmosphere over the course of a century change the global climate sufficiently to require drastic and painful political action today? In the end, that’s what this is all about. Most scientists close enough to the topic say: possibly. Some say: definitely. Some say: highly unlikely. The ‘consensus’ answer is that the warming could be anything from mildly beneficial to dangerously harmful: that’s what the IPCC means when it quotes a range of plausible outcomes from 1.5 to 4 degrees of warming.

On the basis of this unsettled scientific question, politicians and most of the pressure groups that surround them are furiously insistent that any answer to the question other than ‘definitely’ is vile heresy motivated by self-interest, and is so disgraceful as to require stamping out, prosecution as a crime against humanity, investigation under laws designed to catch racketeering by organized crime syndicates, or possibly the suspension of democracy.

You can find this must-read essay here. Matt Ridley also delivered the 2013 CD Kemp Lecture for the IPA, ‘Freedom and Optimism: Humanity’s Triumph.’ You can watch the video of the lecture here and his Q&A session with Bjørn Lomborg here.

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Email: Support for freedom of speech continues to grow

While the prime minister has kicked it “into the long grass“, support within the Coalition for freedom of speech continues to grow.

There are now 13 senators who are public in their support of changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. (See the full list on FreedomWatch here).

Last week, Senator Zed Seselja was the latest to join the call for free speech, with this 11 minute speech in the Senate. It is a must watch.

This week, Prime Minister Turnbull rejected the opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to freedom of speech (which the IPA’s Simon Breheny suggested they take up last week) saying “the government has no plans to change the Racial Discrimination Act at all”.

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Email: Anti-discrimination laws are chilling freedom of speech

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In an important article for the Australian Financial Review last week, IPA Executive Director John Roskam explained how illiberal anti-discrimination laws undermine free speech:

Anti-discrimination laws aimed at preventing people from being offended are chilling freedom of speech in Australia. Such laws are a bigger threat to freedom of speech than outright regulations or control of the media because they’re so insidious and because they affect everyone, not just journalists.

This follows a complaint in Tasmania last week against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

The IPA issued a media release on this last week, noting that this is what we predicted would happen when the Tasmanian anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2013. The IPA’s Simon Breheny concluded:

Even if the complaint is rejected by the commission, the fact that the legislation contemplates such a complaint on a topic of genuine and significant public and political debate shows the overreach of the Tasmanian regime.

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Email: The IPA’s Chris Berg and Simon Breheny give expert evidence to senate Nanny State inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra

Last Friday 11 September 2015, the IPA’s Chris Berg and Simon Breheny appeared as expert witnesses before the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into personal choice and community impacts, colloquially known as the Nanny State inquiry.

The three key points we made were:

  • Paternalism is deeply undemocratic
  • Policy makers are as prone to making mistakes as consumers
  • Politicians and bureaucrats do not know what is in our best interests

Click here to read the media release the IPA published on the day of the hearing, and click here to read the IPA’s written submission.

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Email: Greenpeace attacks IPA for being too successful

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Last week, it was announced that the Institute of Public Affairs was in the running to win the prestigious international Templeton Freedom Award in Washington for its role in repealing the carbon tax.

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The IPA is one of six finallists for the $US100,000 prize, granted by the American non-profit organisation the Atlas Network. The Guardian reported:

A glowing description of the IPA’s campaign strategy against the carbon tax – which was passed under the Gillard government in 2011 and repealed by the Abbott government in 2014 – is detailed on the Atlas Network website.

The report lauded the IPA’s influence in the Australian media landscape. “Starting from the day the tax was announced, the IPA took an active role in the mainstream media to counter the misinformation that advocates of the carbon tax were peddling,” the report reads.

“The IPA’s research and analysis of the economics underpinning the case for the carbon tax appeared in print media outlets 209 times between Jan 1, 2010, and July 31, 2014.

“IPA research scholars also featured on radio and television stations around Australia, with 363 radio appearances between 2008 and 2013 and 261 television appearances in the same time frame.”

But not everyone is happy. As reported in The Australian last Friday, Greenpeace Australia has called on the IPA to donate any prize money to – wait for it – a climate change charity:

“We are calling on them to donate the prize money in full, should they be successful, to a charity that is helping poorer nations to deal with the impact of climate change.”

IPA deputy executive director James Paterson said that wouldn’t be happening.

“Environmental organisations like Greenpeace campaign for higher taxes, more regulation and bigger government and that goes against the philosophy of the foundation that’s handing out this award,” he said.

Mr Paterson didn’t want to assume his organisation would win the prize.

“It’s a pretty impressive field. The Venezuelan entrants are literally putting their lives on the line with the things they do,” he said.

Senate Inquiry submission continues the IPA’s fight against the Nanny State

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On Monday, the IPA lodged a submission with the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into personal choice and community impacts.

The submission includes a collection of excerpts from published IPA works on the economics, philosophy, and practicalities of paternalism generally, and as applied to a wide range of particular policy areas.

There are a number of reasons to reject Nanny State policies, and our submission highlights the key arguments against paternalism. One of the most powerful is the anti-democratic argument:

Paternalism violates one of the core ethical constructs at the heart of our liberal democracy: the claim that we are each capable of exercising rational and self-regarding decision making, and have the right to make such decisions at the ballot box. If we believe that claim holds true for voting, why do we not believe it holds true for market choice? It is important that policymakers understand the full significance of their assertion that individuals are unable to make decisions on their own behalf, and that they require the assistance of higher authorities. This is in fact a radical anti-democratic argument which elevates policy-makers above the station of those from whom they derive their political legitimacy.

Click here to download and read the IPA’s submission.

The not-so-secular origin of the Australian common law

It is frequently said that the Australian legal and political system is – and must be – free from any hint of religiosity. As an illustration of this, the Victorian state government recently confirmed that it would be dropping religious education from schools, with the AEU saying such a programme “was at odds with Victoria’s secular education system.”

Extraordinarily, state schools are to make space for ‘world histories, cultures, faiths and ethics’, as well as the ‘inclusion of respectful relationships education’ that will ‘help address gender stereotypes and discrimination’.

Behind the shallow calls of a separation of church and state (a deeply misused phrase) rests an undeniable truth that religion, and in particular Christianity, was a fundamental building block of Australian society.

For more, read Dr Augusto Zimmermann’s article on FreedomWatch last week ‘The not-so-secular foundations of Australia’s legal-political institutions‘.

3 articles from this week you must read

  • A rare victory for common sense! Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian on the rejection of confected outrage in favour of old-fashioned law and reason ($).
  • Don’t like Trump? You can blame his popularity on political correctness, as SE Cupp does in Townhall this week.
  • And in the Australian Financial Review on Friday, IPA Executive Director John Roskam revealed which important group of Australians was left out of the National Reform Summit.

Some other recent highlights from FreedomWatch

Kindest regards,

Morgan Begg
Editor of FreedomWatch – Institute of Public Affairs

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Email: Major report backs changes to section 18C

Bob_DayA government review of Commonwealth laws has identified section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 as being ‘of particular concern’ to freedom of speech, in a major report released last week.

The Australian Law Reform Commission, which was joined last month by the IPA’s academic advisor Professor Suri Ratnapala as a part-time Commissioner, is conducting a review into Commonwealth encroachments of ‘Traditional Rights and Freedoms’.

In its interim report last week it identified the freedom of speech implications of section 18C, and the need for a ‘more thorough review’ of the law.

This follows the tick of approval by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to amend put forward by Senator Bob Day to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the law.

With the Prime Minister’s own party’s rank and file also having endorsed Senator Day’s amendment bill in June, the government should consider this an ideal opportunity to honour its election promise and take a stand for freedom of speech.

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Email: Wind power can meet all our 3am power needs…

IPA academic advisor, Professor Suri Ratnapala to join the Australian Law Reform Commission

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Professor Suri Ratnapala

In great news for the cause of freedom, Professor Suri Ratnapala has been appointed as a part-time member of the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Professor Ratnapala is to assist the ALRC’s ‘Review of the Commonwealth Laws for Consistency with Traditional Rights, Freedoms and Privileges’ – known as the Freedoms Inquiry, which is to conclude by the end of the year.

In the IPA’s own audit of federal laws – which was submitted to the Freedoms Inquiry – found that 48 provisions effectively reverse the presumption of innocence, while 108 provisions remove the privilege against self-incrimination.

Breaches of fundamental legal rights such as these deserve urgent attention, and it’s reassuring to see that someone of Professor Ratnapala’s calibre has been appointed to the Freedoms Inquiry.

To see Professor Ratnapala’s most recent FreedomWatch post on the effect of ill-conceived legislation on the separation of powers, click here.

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