Category: Personal Liberty

My Health Record: it’s worse than you think

There have been many critiques of the Federal government’s rollout of the My Health Record, based on many different grounds. There are the threats of hackers abusing the lax security of government databases, there are concerns over abusive spouses accessing details by logging into their spouses’ accounts, there are questions over the access private companies will have to sensitive records, and there are worries regarding access creep – more and more people getting access to this information.

The government has been on the back foot since the opt out period has started and has scrambled to assuage the fears of the public. No health minister would want a large program like this to fall flat and give the opposition a free kick going into the next federal election, which could be held as early as August 4th. All of these criticisms are valid and any one of them provides good Read the rest

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Bootleggers, Baptists and baggage: who benefits from plastic bag bans?

The State of Queensland recently instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags at retail outlets. Woolworths is a first mover in removing all plastic bags from its own shops. Unsurprisingly many Queenslanders are frustrated with this move, and yet few Queenslanders are surprised that the State government has done yet another stupid thing.

But why do things like this happen in the first place? Why do widely unpopular, stupid regulations seem to get through the political process that is meant to represent the populace at large?

The first thing that must be noted is that many of these regulations impose diffuse costs (a small cost on absolutely everyone) yet have concentrated benefits (a few big winners). This means that there is less incentive for individuals who have to bear the costs to lobby against such regulations, and more incentive for those few big winners to lobby for them.

But Read the rest

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It’s the law that needs to change, not men

A little over a week ago as I read of the callous rape and murder of Melbourne comedian Eurydice Dixon a familiar fury boiled inside me. The right of all human beings to life, liberty and security is a cardinal component of my morality. As she walked through a park in “the world’s most liveable city”, Eurydice Dixon had those rights ripped from her in a brutal and horrifying manner. Ms Dixon was a few years older than my eldest daughter. News of her slaying sent a shiver through my core, as it did for thousands of parents of young women who wish to exercise their fundamental right to go about their business unmolested.

In the days following, a number of lengthy and confronting lists of “things that women do that men don’t have to think about” circulated social media detailing the lengths women go to in order to avoid Read the rest

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A sugar tax won’t fix the damage done by ‘public health’

A recent TV Program has again raised the issue of a sugar tax. All the usual public health suspects were of course in favour. They also bemoaned the influence of industry whilst complaining that they themselves do not get enough funding and lack clout.

It is difficult to know where to start. Public health is generously funded by government and is not particularly accountable.

Let us be crystal clear. It was not the food industry that introduced low fat dietary guidelines in the absence of any evidence in the early 1980’s. It was not big pharma or big sugar or big food. It was public health.  Whilst pretending to be small and powerless, the reality is that public health leverages the power of big government.

This has been evidenced by trials of doctors such as Garry Fettke in Tasmania and Tim Noakes in South Africa where complaints by elements in … 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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Abortion clinics and the death of Liberalism

Everyone should be uncomfortable and upset in a liberal society.

Some will be upset when they proudly see two married men holding hands and kissing in public. Some will be upset when they need to choose another photographer when a strongly religious Christian or Muslim photographer refuses them service.

Some will be upset by speech that seems to promote Islamic fundamentalism. Some will be upset by speech that seems to promotion white nationalism.

Some will be upset by abortion being freely and legally available. Some will be upset by being shown medical images of the procedure they are about to undertake.

When we approach these difficult issues in our society, both sides should lose.

Liberalism not a utopian philosophy. It’s far from perfect. It’s messy, and no-one is entirely happy with it. And that’s the way it should be. You have to put up with people doing things you despise, … Read the rest

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No freedom to choose

I once watched a speech on the nanny state by Brendan O’Neill who said that he didn’t like the term nanny state, for two reasons. One of them was because he thought the term much too cutesy and benign to describe the insidious authoritarian nature of attempts to control how people live their lives. The other reason was because as a child his grandmother was called ‘nanny’ as was mine. His nanny drank stout for breakfast and smoked like a chimney, likewise my own nanny loved sweet treats, didn’t partake in the kind of exercise that is recommended these days and didn’t like eating salad.  The lifestyles of our nannies were the antithesis of how the nanny state would like to see us behave.

But for those who didn’t call their grandmothers ‘nanny’ while growing up, the term points to something rather more sinister: the nanny of the nursery, the Read the rest

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How safe is your house from confiscation?

People regularly talk about things being “as safe as houses” and the great Australian dream of owning your own home is now a reality for more and more people, but how safe are law abiding citizens when it comes to government confiscation laws?

If you think the suite of confiscation laws brought in under recent governments, Labour and Liberal alike, are only there to tackle major criminals – the so-called king-pins of organised crime, and the ‘Mr Bigs’ of the drug trade – then perhaps it’s time for a reality check.

Take the case of Ms Nguyen, who I met earlier this month (and with whom I’m pictured above). A single mother and a factory worker earning close to the minimum wage, she is fighting to stop the DPP from selling her house out from under her. This person has no criminal record; not so much as a parking ticket … Read the rest

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Tobacco harm reduction and vaping: beyond a binary approach

In the Orwell classic Animal farm there was a binary notion that the animals lived by – “four legs good, two legs bad”. This eventually morphed into “four legs good, two legs better” as the pigs who became the lead animals began walking on two legs like the evil farmer they had replaced.

Binary thinking has a role in areas like engineering where unless a bridge or building is a certain strength it may fall down. However human biology is not quite as amenable to this approach. Notwithstanding that we are all similar, no two people (even identical twins) are exactly the same.

In seeking to treat or help people in medicine we need a variety of options. No antidepressant or antihypertensive works for everyone. Different approaches are required and we must tailor what is best to the individual. The more options we have the greater the number we can … Read the rest

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