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Internet censorship back on the agenda

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The IPA’s Chris Berg was interviewed this morning by ABC News’ The World Today. He spoke about the Commonwealth government’s proposal to censor social media websites.

Listen to the segment here.

As Chris rightly points out the proposal represents a significant increase in online censorship. Giving an e-safety commissioner the power to force social media sites to take down posts establishes an arbitrarily applied internet filter. The idea that a bureaucrat would be given discretion over what is and is not acceptable on the internet is absurd and dangerous.

Taking offence

NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator-elect David Leyonhjelm makes a good point in his AFR column today:

The Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”, and yet whether anyone is indeed offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated is up to the receiver of the message.

Given an inability to know in advance how the recipient might choose to feel, the only option is to avoid saying anything much at all. This can have significant consequences for the way we speak.

New IPA report: A taxing approach to choice

Today the IPA released a report ‘A taxing approach to choice: how behavioural taxes deliver perverse outcomes’. The report looks at how the Nanny State’s experiment with behavioural taxation has failed.

Behavioural taxes are taxes that are designed to influence behaviour against consumption. However, as I argue in an opinion piece in The Australian today, behavioural taxation operates under the flawed assumption that ‘government knows best’. It really shouldn’t matter to the government whether you enjoy drinking a Carlton Draft, a Penfolds’ Shiraz or a Bacardi Breezer:

The motivation is, in principle, completely illiberal; the government interferes with the rights and freedoms of individuals to make choices about their own consumption.

Even still, the efficacy of behavioural taxation is questionable.

As Christian Kerr reports in The Australian today, the IPA report use the Rudd government’s 2008 70% take hike on alcopops as an example of the failure of behavioural taxation.

The report shows that while taxes may influence the behaviour of moderate drinkers, it doesn’t impact the heavy drinkers that the policy was designed to target. The report cites evidence that while the alcopops tax prompted a decline in the consumption of RTDS, consumers simply substituted to privately mixed spirits, and potentially white wine and cider.

The report also explains that the rising price of alcohol at venues is leading people to engage in ‘preloading’ before going out to a bar or a club. There is also academic evidence to suggest potential substitution from alcohol to illicit drugs.

The overwhelming evidence is what has prompted this joint project between the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and MyChoice Australia.

The report should be a warning to the Nanny State lobby that are continuing to push for ‘fat taxes’. These policies have been tried and failed with Denmark scrapping theirs after only 15 months.

The experiment with behavioural taxation has well and truly failed, and should be abandoned.

For too long distant and poorly-informed governments have been allowed to overreach into the lives of individuals. Yet it is individual consumers that will always be in the best position to judge what purchasing decisions are in their best interests.

Odd Future denied entry to New Zealand

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It’s not a rap concert unless it creates moral outrage.

Odd Future, a United States hip hop group, had their visas revoked by the New Zealand government just before they were to perform alongside Eminem in his “Rapture” tour. Immigration New Zealand have said:

The Immigration Act 2009 provides that entry permission may not be granted where there is reason to believe Continue Reading →

A plan for the ABC

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Many IPA members have had suggestions about the future of the ABC. Here’s a valuable contribution from IPA member Stephen Blacketer from South Australia:

Well, I’ve finally done it. After being refused access to speak on air on the ABC I got angry enough to put finger to keyboard and write down my plan for reform of the ABC. The ABC uses its vast communications network and influence to steer political, cultural and economic debate to the left of politics. It certainly does not respect the charter that it should operate under. Continue Reading →

Poll: 80% disapprove of government surveillance without a warrant

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Some encouraging polling was released earlier today. It shows 80% of respondents disapprove of the Australian government being able to access their phone and internet records without a warrant.

I wonder how many Australians are aware that a large number of government agencies (including local councils and the RSPCA) currently have the power to obtain phone records without a warrant.

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