Category: Economic Freedom

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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In defence of streaming services

In the world of commercial music the power balance has shifted – billions of consumers now have more pull than hundreds of thousands of recording artists.

It’s called democratisation.

The more people you have making decisions, and the more immediate the impact of those decisions, the greater the variation in choice. A large number of consumers have chosen to spend their collective music budget on a little bit of lots of different artists’ work, where previously a small number of record company executives had allocated it across a narrower spectrum on their behalf.

If anybody wants to argue that the price per impression on streaming services is too low, then it should be pointed out that the artist receives that minuscule sum every time their song is played, as opposed to an up-front lump sum when purchasing a record or CD. Divide the purchase price of a CD by the … Read the rest

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WA lobster nationalisation leaves industry on the rocks

The West Australian fishing industry that has long exemplified successful export orientated local enterprises, now faces the threat of annihilation from Premier McGowan’s pugnacious policies. The proposed law tries to create more rock lobster stocks for a barely existent local market through enforced expropriation. If this bill passes the upper house, fishermen stand to lose their livelihoods.

The laws only set WA’s fishing industry back to the 1970s where it was uncompetitive and unprofitable as the government will seize over 17 percent of the fish stock. This will deter private investment and discourage new entrants while wrecking the industry. The prospect of such government overreach is unwarranted and exploitative based off the anaemic justification that rock lobsters are a ‘local rarity’.

Rock lobster fishermen rely heavily on the prices our exports attract due to high demand in Asian markets. The shockwaves of McGowan’s law are already being felt in the … Read the rest

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The case for pill testing

Over the New Year’s period two party goers have fatally overdosed at music festivals around the country, renewing the debate about pill testing which has become a contentious issue in New South Wales.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has taken a firm stance against pill testing in the wake of the two fatal overdoses and over 700 requiring drug related medical treatment at Defqon1 late last year.

Berejiklian has since softened her stance on pill testing after the deaths over New Year’s and is now open to considering the possibility of pill testing at future music festivals in the state. It is still unclear, however, if public money will be used to supply pill testing services or venue operators will be permitted to operate their own pill testing services privately, or with cooperation from outside institutions.

The current response to drugs in music festivals in both New South Wales … Read the rest

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Government killed the video star

One of the great products of capitalism is technological advancement and innovation, as enterprise and business when left free are able to unleash their creativity through their products and services. Such technological advancements have grown rapidly since the turn of the century, especially in media which has seen ground-breaking innovations like social media platforms and video streaming that have revolutionised industry practices.

These innovations have been disruptive for traditional media companies. We have seen the effects first-hand through the collapse of the Fairfax empire, and are witnessing the slow extinction of traditional free-to-air TV. While breakneck technological disruption is a major factor behind TV’s struggle, with an exodus of customers to online streaming giants such as Netflix and Stan, government regulation is also to blame as it has left companies less competitive and unresponsive to consumer tastes.

Most principally, it is local content rules applied to free-to-air television that mandate … Read the rest

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A robot tax punishes people

Life is much better today than it ever has been in history. Since the Industrial Revolution, in particular, new technologies and labour-saving devices have benefited the average worker a great deal. Unfortunately, it seems that some people haven’t got the memo yet.

In modern history, humans have demonstrated a fear of technological progress and its consequences. The Luddites took it upon themselves to destroy looms and knitting frames, which they feared would take their jobs, and it appears as though a Labor government would like to revive the primitive practice.

The Labor Party are tipped to back a new ‘robot tax’ which flies in the face of human progress and promises to constrain the ever-rising living standards the past few hundred years have brought us.

The new tax would be aimed at funding the retraining of workers displaced by technology so they can move into jobs of equivalent conditions and … Read the rest

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The dangers of a two-tiered tax system

Labor has thrown its support behind the Morrison government’s tax cuts for small businesses, and while such reforms should be embraced, creating a two-tiered tax system will have negative consequences for the Australian economy.

Under the proposed legislation, businesses with revenue of less than $50 million will be subject to a 25 percent business tax rate while those earning over the threshold will be taxed at 30 percent. Business tax cuts have become highly politicised in Australia, and the parliament’s unwillingness to budge on the issue puts us at odds with other developed countries who have implemented cuts over recent years.

Lowering the business tax rate would be a great policy, but creating a tiered system is not. There are two ways in which high business taxes will harm the economy. They reduce the savings rate by increasing prices, and they hamper economic growth, job creation, and wages by stifling Read the rest

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The liberation of the Chinese woman

How the free market freed women and entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.

The visitor to Hong Kong today sees a bustling hive of energy where even the New Yorker is a slowpoke. It’s a place where people of all races and cultures live and work in harmony. It’s also a place where, long before the change of sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997, the gweilos [“long-nosed barbarians”] were being displaced in all spheres of human action by locals. [Under British rule, only the government lagged behind — only there could the criterion of race override the criterion of ability.]

Hong Kong is one of the most successful multi-racial societies in the world. But this is a relatively recent development.

The major difference between Hong Kong and other peaceful multi-racial/multi-ethnic societies like Australia (and the US) is that in Australia minorities, over time, lose their separate tribal identities and become members … Read the rest

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The Majority is the biggest gang in town

This article is adapted from the opening remarks by Andrew Cooper at LibertyFest Brisbane 2019.

Taxation is theft. Who has heard of this term?

Those of you who read and think deeply about the writings of Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner or John Locke twill no doubt have a deeper understanding of these three simple words than I do but it is these words that are most responsible for my personal journey towards the liberty movement.

To get a grip on the idea that ‘taxation is theft’ we can use a popular thought experiment that some of you may have heard of and it goes something like this:

Imagine that you’re walking down a street in the evening and someone approaches you, pulls a gun out of their jacket and demands you hand over your cash or they shoot. Well, that’s robbery right?

Now, because it’s robbery, protecting your property by Read the rest

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