Category: Free Market

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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Time for a new agriculture R&D model

Australian agricultural production reached AUD $60B in the 2017/18 financial year and directly employs some 370,000 people across 120,000 individual businesses. Over the past forty years the industry has gone through significant structural change including amalgamation of smaller holdings, reduction of tariffs, increased Free Trade Agreements and the emergence of large corporate production enterprises. Still, approximately 94% of the industry is family owned and operated.

Over this same period the level of innovation driven by education, production systems advancements and technology has increased exponentially. Agriculture production has always been a business first, however the demands from the downstream supply chain have placed extraordinary pressure on producers to be more efficient.

The agricultural industry in Australia is very fragmented, therefore adaption and adoption of new technology, systems and practices has historically been slow. However, this has certainly changed in the past fifteen years especially in cotton, grain and horticulture where change … Read the rest

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The rise of minority fundamentalism

This article is an adaption based on a talk given by Senator Stoker at LibertyFest Brisbane 2018. 

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak at the LibertyFest conference today.  A festival to celebrate liberty is the type of event under threat these days.  It’s worth reflecting that the first casualty of liberty is the right to free speech.

Ronald Reagan, whom despite his big-government tendencies, I rather admire, had a succinct and simple way of expressing himself.

He said “Freedom (or liberty) is the right to question and change the established way of doing things.  It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace.  It is the understanding that allows us to recognise shortcomings and seek solutions.”

The phrase “marketplace” is often used in its commercial sense. But I like to think of it in terms of the marketplace of ideas.  At the recent Brisbane launch of his book, the Art … 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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Haque’s critique of capitalism would send us all to Venezuela

So, just what is wrong with Umair Haque’s article If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism?

Well there is a lot wrong with it from start to finish.

In Haque’s description of the capitalist world, people’s objectives are couched purely in materialist terms – “the worker is trying to become a manager. The manager is trying to become a capitalist.” Haque seems oblivious to the notion that capitalist societies already allow people to live on hippy communes if they wish whereas socialist societies do not allow people to opt out of the commune.

His description of capitalism as being “like a pyramid, which we’re all climbing” is mistaken.  So is his example of capitalism in its purist form, in which he labels the slave owner as the purest capitalist of all.  But what he is describing is actually a form of feudal … Read the rest

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Alex Jones and the new social media censorship

In the wake of Alex Jones’ banning from Facebook, YouTube and Apple the outrage has been palpable. And that is understandable. There is no doubt that there is a bias on these social media platforms against what is often described as ‘far right’ viewpoints. Anything slightly right of centre is described as ‘far right’ these days, so it’s no wonder that people on the right are concerned when they see another instance of voices being silenced on three of the big social media platforms.

The problem with being outraged about these acts of private censorship is that the natural inclination is to look to government to do something about it. It’s all too tempting to look to any easy fix when an injustice is perceived and, in this case, the easy fix would be for government to step in and somehow insist that social media platforms quit censoring views that … Read the rest

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Price controls could leave airport users stranded on the tarmac

An Australian Productivity Commission inquiry into the regulation of our country’s airports has raised prospects of price controls and other regulations in a bid to exert control and oversight across the industry. Although well-intentioned, these moves are likely to have unforeseen and undesirable consequences which must be considered prior to the inquiry’s completion and delivery of the Commission’s report to Treasury by June 2019.

Although the allure of regulations might seem appealing to self-professed “champions of the people”, what remains clearer is that optimum results for consumers are best achieved in an environment that promotes free and lively competition – not heavy-handed measures which could prove disastrous for the very people they are intended to benefit.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the aviation and airports industry is a constantly evolving one which is responsive and adaptive to market trends and consumer demand. It is doubtful that there is an imperative … Read the rest

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Internet privacy: why the government is not going to help, and what we should do about it

Recent debate around internet privacy and sharing of user data has resulted in  a lot of blame, but no real solutions. The truth is that governments have a vested interest in collecting data on citizens. It may seem like they don’t like their citizen’s data being misused, but in the end it is much easier to ask Facebook for data on an individual than it is to collect it themselves. As consumers, what can we do to stop our data being shared, without giving up on the digital world altogether?

Free As They Want You To Be

Facebook and Google are the two sites from which most internet users begin every session. The amount of data they collect on individuals is staggering, assigning each user a unique ID from which they keep a virtual dossier on every search, every post, every click. They are companies which run for profit, as Read the rest

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