Category: Culture

Plain packaging: a failed policy export

We all know plain packaging is incredibly unappealing to look at, but statistics are consistently showing that it is also completely useless – and may even have effects that go against its intended outcome of reducing smoking. 

First, some background. Since December 2012, all companies selling tobacco products in Australia have been required to remove any branding or logos on packaging under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011. This has meant that all products from all brands have same appearance – drab dark brown (or Pantone 448 C, “the ugliest colour in the world”). The drab packaging compliments enlarged pictures of a child dying from cancer, somebody’s rotten teeth, a gangrenous foot, or some other visceral and confronting medical image designed to scare people into giving up the habit.

Australia was the first country to implement standardised tobacco packaging laws, and has inspired at least 15 other countries … Read the rest

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Want more women at the top? Don’t overtax the ones already there

Lowering the 32.5 percent marginal tax rate to 30 percent and abolishing the 37 percent tax bracket for people earning $125,000 to $200,000 helps women. Australian Taxpayers Alliance Policy Director, Satya Marar, published an op-ed this week in the Daily Telegraph pointing out that this tax cut would not only provide Australia’s economy with a much-needed productivity boost. It would also promote women’s workforce participation and would bring more highly educated and qualified women back into the workforce, and reward them with higher paying jobs.

The government is punishing the very women who are doing the most to eradicate the gender wage gap.

It is women who have the power to take control of the gender wage gap. Not radical social engineers who think that imposing constraints on companies, or pushing unmeritocratic affirmative action policies are the answer. Women who are keen to work hard and get ahead in … Read the rest

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The age of political hostility

It seems in recent times we have seen an unprecedented rise in hostility, not only here in ‘the lucky country’ but around the world. We have seen mass killings, heinous crimes, acts of terrorism, violent protests, ‘egging,’ and a general intolerance of people with different opinions to ours. At this time of writing, right before the 2019 election, the display of hate towards political parties has perhaps been the most exemplary of this intolerance.

There are several reasons for this rise, and I won’t cover all of them here, but will mention a few, as well as offer some solutions.

Social media, while not a cause, has been a platform and a catalyst for the hostility. Where people once had time to cool off before expressing their frustrations or rage at anyone who would listen, social media now provides them with an instant audience. The problem is however, that such … Read the rest

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Blocking media is the new book burning

During times of great chaos in Ancient Rome, the government of the day resorted to restricting citizens’ liberty. Similarly, in Australia during times of great media frenzies, it seems that the liberties of citizens can also be suspended.

It is as if the Enlightenment never occurred and John Stuart Mill’s arguments for a free press were never made.

Australia’s own Caesar, Scott Morrison, attempted to stop people from seeing the footage of the New Zealand shooting.

Mr. Morrison himself did not pass any laws or act with any executive orders; he just asked telecommunications companies like Telstra to prevent their users from accessing video hosting platforms like LiveLeak and various other media sites.

LiveLeak, for those unfamiliar, is a video sharing site similar to YouTube. Unlike YouTube, LiveLeak aims to provide an archive of raw footage from current events in order to give power to the people who can analyse … Read the rest

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Hey Triple J: please change the date (again)!

I celebrated Australian music and the Hottest 100 on Sunday. But I want the date to change.

Preferably in a way that isn’t so overly political this time. That reduces and not compounds the division in our society.

The Hottest 100 should be on a day that all Australians, from all walks of life, can celebrate. From our Nation’s First People, fifth generation Australians, the person who just received their citizenship during an Australia Day ceremony, and perhaps most troublingly here, Jewish Australians who should not have to suffer the indignity and harsh injustice of Triple J allowing the Hottest 100 to air on International Holocaust Survivors Day.

Albrecht Dümling’s 2011 book, The Vanished Musicians: Jewish Refugees in Australia, reveals the previously unknown experiences of scores of Jewish refugee musicians who fled Nazi Germany.

Sadly, the Musicians Union of Australia prevented (or hamstrung) many of these talented musicians from … Read the rest

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St Kilda shows us the importance of free speech

For some, the recent rally at St Kilda beach provides evidence of far-right bigotry in Australia. Those who hold racist, anti-immigrant views must be shut down in an effort to ensure that there are “no Nazis, never again”, as the counter-protestors’ chant went.

These counter-protestors are anti-hate speech and actively tried to stifle the views of the so-called ‘far-right’ individuals who are criticising Australia’s immigration policy. While the counter-protestors have the moral high ground in opposing racism, they fail to realise that their previous actions have given weight to the ‘far-right’.

This is due to insistence by those same types that public debate be politically correct and free speech be limited for those who have differing opinions. Such restrictions on speech are proving to be dangerous, leading to polarisations uncharacteristic of Australian political debate.

As Noam Chomsky said: “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So … Read the rest

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When it’s facts versus feminism at the Guardian, it’s down the memory hole with the truth

The one thing that you can rely on The Guardian to be is inconsistent. On Britain’s recent Royal Wedding they published one article celebrating Meghan Markle for being brown skinned and another  late last year criticising her for not being brown enough. Would it not be better to abide by Martin Luther King’s exhortation to judge people by the content of their character rather than their skin colour? But then I would say that being a privileged white male of impeccable character.

There was more predictable lunacy recently in the Guardian, from Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, who wrote an article praising the historian Dan Snow because he lied to his children by telling them that there were female spitfire pilots in the RAF during World War Two. Miss Cosslett thinks it’s a wonderful idea to lie to children about history if it doesn’t mirror the past the way she thinks … Read the rest

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Thanking our veterans; triggering the left

The world of Australian aviation is in some ways an intensely patriotic one, with Qantas serving as the National Phallus and a source of national pride. As such, the comments section on Australian Business Traveller‘s recent article about Virgin Australia joining in the government’s initiative to thank armed forces veterans for their service becomes utterly comical.

In this article, it is noted that the federal government launched an initiative encouraging corporations to give special perks to armed forces members, even if many of those perks work out merely to be a relatively meaningless expression of gratitude. Virgin Australia joined this initiative, but Qantas did not. Qantas, for its part, makes special announcements on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. However, Virgin are reconsidering joining this initiative, as there has been public backlash.

Flynn’s article remained neutral and descriptive. It asked for the audience’s opinion and invited discussion. The comments section, Read the rest

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Rock stars of the counter-counterculture

In July this year I arrived at the Brisbane convention centre to hear right-wing YouTubers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux speak on their Australian tour. The scene in the large foyer seemed more like a rock concert than a speaker tour. Hundreds of people were waiting outside buying T-Shirts with slogans like, “It’s OK to be white, “West is best” and “Feminism is cancer”. The experience was unlike anything I’d ever seen in my entire time being involved with politics. A normal right-wing political gathering usually involves a few dozen political tragics, usually men, quietly chatting while waiting to listen to a political speech. This was entirely different, and these weren’t the usual suspects I’d come to recognise. The crowd was the most diverse I’d ever seen. Young and old, men and women, white and black, gay and straight. Through the power of YouTube Southern and Molyneux had reached the Read the rest

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