Should Conservatives Support Drug Legalisation?

by on 16 July, 2014

Tim Andrews, writing in Quadrant Online, argues that conservatives should support an end to drug prohibition:

A conservative seeks to be grounded in reality… the drug laws aren’t working and more damage net is being done by their continuation on the books than would be done by withdrawing them from the books”.  –William F. Buckley

With last week’s news that Australia is leading the world in illicit drug consumption, every conservative should heed the words of conservative icon William F. Buckely and admit the war on drugs is over, and drugs won. Despite a bipartisan consensus costing billions of taxpayer dollars a year, illicit drugs remain easily available, cheap, and potent. Meanwhile, 100,000 people are arrested each year and 40% of Australians are de facto criminals.

Conservatives frequently attack the left for not taking into account the opportunity cost of their actions – for “not thinking beyond stage one” – yet the drug war is a prime example of this. Even those unswayed by classical liberal arguments for individual choice must come to accept that prohibition has not only failed, but has leveled a terrible toll, not just on the economy but on society.

It was estimated that in 2008 Australian governments spent a staggering $4.7 billion on the war on drugs , which this week’s figures show has resulted in little more than clogging up courts and prisons. At a time of both federal and state budget emergencies, this is a vanity we just can’t afford. With 87% of Cannabis arrest targeting mere consumers , and with over 10% of sentenced prisoners incarcerated for drug related offences, prohibition redirects limited police resources away from real crime.

Click HERE to keep reading.

Academic: Teaching English To Aboriginals Akin To Stolen Generation

by on 10 July, 2014

A PROMINENT literacy acad­emic responsible for training Eng­lish teachers has challenged the need for Aboriginal children in remote communities to learn Eng­lish and the assumption that their reading and writing skills need fixing.

Stewart Riddle, education lecturer in literacies and English curriculum at the University of Southern Queensland, has questioned whether raising indigenous literacy levels across Australia “is inherently a good thing, in and of itself”, likening it to the assimil­ation policies that led to the Stol­en Generations.

via Aboriginal leaders reject call to halt English lessons | The Australian.

Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Maiden Speech

by on 10 July, 2014

Senator David Leyonhjelm, Australia’s first “openly libertarian” Federal Parliamentarian, delivered his maiden speech yesterday evening. Here is what he said:

The Wizard Of Id

by on 7 July, 2014

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Income Contingent Loans preferable to Paid Parental Leave?

by on 7 July, 2014

Via the CIS:

Australia spends just under $1.4 billion (2012–13) on statutory Paid Parental Leave (PPL) to provide more than 130,000 parents with up to 18 weeks of parental leave paid at the full-time minimum wage.

The Abbott government proposes to pay primary carers at their pre-birth wages up to a cap of $100,000 for up to 26 weeks. This policy would dramatically increase government outlays on statutory PPL by over $3 billion by 2016–17.

This report describes how an Income Contingent Loans (ICL) scheme could be used to provide wage replacement paid parental leave for Australian parents. This scheme would provide the same social benefits that the current statutory PPL provides and meet the gender equity objectives of the Coalition’s proposal.

In contrast to the current and proposed statutory PPL policy, a PPL loans scheme would align the costs of PPL payments with those who benefit from them.

The proposed PPL loans scheme is modelled using representative data on Australian families with young children from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and the distributional implications compared with current and proposed PPL policy.

Click here to download the report: Publications – Fairer Paid Parental Leave.

The Left Was Wrong about Unemployment Insurance

by on 7 July, 2014

Over the past several years, I’ve repeatedly argued that you get more unemployment when the government pays people to be unemployed. But I’m not just relying on theory. I’ve cited both anecdotes and empirical research to bolster my case.

You won’t be surprised to learn that many politicians have a different perspective. They say it is compassionate to provide unemployment insurance benefits. And they say it is cruel and heartless to put a time limit on those payments.And if you believe Nancy Pelosi, unemployment handouts actually are good for the economy!

You might think this is one of these never-to-be-resolved Washington debates, but we actually have two natural experiments over the past year that show one side was right and the other side was wrong.

Click  HERE to keep reading

Whites forbidden from owning land in Zimbabwe

by on 5 July, 2014

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has renewed his onslaught against white farmers saying they would no longer be allowed to own land in the country.

The 90 year-old old leader, who launched a violent land reform programme in 2,000 that displaced the majority of the 4,000 white commercial farmers, on Wednesday said Zimbabwe was no country for white farmers.

via White farmers must not own land in Zimbabwe, declares Mugabe – Africa – nation.co.ke.

A new era in the Senate

by on 28 June, 2014

download (4) Senator-Elect David Leyonhjelm discusses his upcoming role as a Federal Senator, and his fight to put the Godzilla of big government back in its cage:

The first of July 2014 will be my first day as a Senator, representing NSW and the Liberal Democratic Party. I hope history will say it was the day we got to work putting Godzilla back in its cage.

Godzilla is that blundering monster that our governments have become, with their hands in our pocket and noses in every room of our house.
I am the first politician elected to an Australian parliament on a purely libertarian platform, with a mission to lower taxes, remove regulation, and put an end to the nanny state.

To see the challenge I face, you only need to stand at Canberra’s War Memorial and look down Anzac Parade. From there you can look towards the modest building that was once our Parliament House and on to new Parliament House.

There’s nothing edgy about ‘honour killings’

by on 24 June, 2014

I can’t believe this needs to be said, but the choices of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas suggests it does.

Uthman Badar, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia, will be speaking at the Festival on the topic “Honour killings are morally justified”.

How clever.

It has been many years since FODI has shown any desire to live up to its name. Their existences hinge on the flow of government grants, directly or indirectly through the units that make up the art establishment. It’s not here to disrupt the status quo. It is here because, as a Facebook friend snarked, “the whole idea of a Festival of Dangerous Ideas [is to be] some white–person wankery for inner–city latte drinkers to indulge themselves in a trip to the opera house and [provoke] the special feeling of belonging to that special part of society that attends ‘cultural’ events.

So whilst I am openly impressed that FODI has actually gone and proposed a dangerous idea in that context, as far as dangerous ideas go this is quite safe… which is what makes it so dangerous.

It is dangerous in the first instance because the material is justifying murder. Violence is generally accepted as dangerous.

For anyone who, say, might like to think of themselves as culturally enlightened, the barest of philosophical forays will lead you to the subjectivity of morality and/or its experience by the individual.

Armed with this, it is totally conceivable that people who commit what we call “honour killings” have reasons for doing so. It’s a scary rejoinder to the idea of monstrosity as other and seemingly perfect for a crowd seeking “danger”.

This makes it a safe bet. It’s destined to light up blogs like this, and papers and talkback tomorrow, and possibly the 6pm news from earlier this evening. Helen Dale – who has lit up the local media a few times, including this week – called the decision to give Badar a platform “the intellectual equivalent of streaking”, which is so right not just because it’s flashy, insubstantive, and guaranteed to get your eyeballs on the dangly bits, but also because it isn’t novel.

We know that attention will be paid because we have had these debates before. We have had these debates before because there are millions of people who believe murder is a prurient respond to the exercise of certain kinds of autonomy – but they’re other, safely ‘over there’, and the unbridled, uncritical acceptance of the other is how the worst sort of unthinking leftist gets their counter-cultural jollies.

It will be controversial. Why millions of people would hold values so far removed from our own always will be.

And thus we have Badar at FODI, surrounded by the latte elite, who have already started falling over themselves to demonstrate their open-mindedness by paying to listen to a man who fronts the national arm of an organisation that opposes the close-mindedness of a Western liberalism that would go back to stoning women if the culture wasn’t so close-minded.

If an open-mind is worth keeping on this issue this is still not a justification for FODI’s decision. The point of keeping an open mind is to think, judge, and close it eventually. If it never closes it is no great feat of mind, but the simple abrogation of critical thought. FODI is, by choosing to give this violent idea a platform, abrogating that responsibility in the name of whoring themselves out for attention. This is not an act without consequences; what we say in public sends a powerful message about (are you ready for this?) what is is acceptable to say and do in public.

They’re not concerned about that, nor are they actually concerned about whether we should kill slutty sluts for slutting. They’re concerned about how they can leverage Uthman Badar and the Hizb ut-Tahrir brand and the white guilt that creates the cultural relativism that baby leftists are injected with when they submit their first protest poster for assessment, in service of painting the Festival and it’s supporters as open-minded, critically engaged and edgy, and getting the attention that gets them paid. With taxpayer dollars.

If open engagement is what we desire there’s an endless supply of literature on the subject that could be privately consumed. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants.

That is what I find the most dangerous – it’s lovely to have organisations like FODI that self-consciously hike their skirts and whore their stages in the pretence of glorying in liberalism while trying to undermine it. These ideas don’t deserve to be paraded on a platform as flimsy as amusement. There is no honour in giving a microphone to a man who doesn’t want to give the microphone back, when he will use it to promote a ban on microphones.

FODI sets its own agenda. They made a considered choice to offer the stage to a lobbyist for Islamototalitarianism to promote the murder of (mostly) women.

If FODI wants to truly be provocative, there are orthodoxies far better challenged than the secular, liberal, individualist democracy that permits people – including women – to pursue the free thought that allows them to consider and reject the killing women who exercise autonomy could be totally sweet.

FODI has the right to offer the PR flak for totalitarian organisation a space on its platform, and its secular “cultural establishment” type audience is mature enough to consider the idea without accepting it (the way the Murdoch-media-swilling general publicans apparently cannot, no doubt). Minds aren’t likely to slip out from under the warm, prosperous blanket of liberalism for the rock hard reality of whatever backwards logic makes it okay to kill for a contorted derivative of honour. 

The Federal Budget didn’t ditch the Far North. It delivered.

by on 17 June, 2014

Jack Wilkie-Jans

 Aboriginal Affairs Advocate Jack Wilkie-Jans discusses the implications of the Federal Budget for northern Australian communities. 

The Federal Budget, when fully implemented, will be tough on Aussies’ hip-pockets. That’s a given both sides of politics can concede. It will be an even more difficult to educate Australians of the necessities of the unpopular cost savings measures.

Depending on who you talk to, the Federal Budget was either too far or not far enough, however one thing economists agree on is that it will work. The budget speculation is now over and understandably Australians will be licking their wounds as well as continuing to find out how the budget more directly affects them or their region in the smaller print. One thing that this budget has highlighted is the need for greater diversity and stimulation in our economy and the State Governments will need to pull up their socks and come to the table as well.

Cairns and Far North Queensland are constantly worrying about the state of our economy and the state of our businesses- even more so in Cape York. The Queensland Government’s Cape York Regional Plan showed certain regions and what those regions could be used for however there are no further strategies to holistically and cohesively move towards real diverse economic growth for the region. We hear a great deal about weening people off of welfare dependency, but not as much about what they’re expected to move on to. We hear about how Aborigines in remote townships will be able to buy homes and property on their lands, but we hear nothing about how they’ll be able to afford to do so (especially with the rise in the cost of living).

Far Northerners have always rather known we’d be out on our own for the long-haul. We haven’t the population to swing massive amounts of assistance to the region. I am thankful we have four dedicated parliamentarians (Warren Entsch of the Federal seat of Leichhardt, David Kempton of the state seat of Cook, Gavin King of state seat of Cairns and Michael Trout of the state seat of Barron River) who have done us proud and who have been able to score more for the Far North than other representatives before them. The Federal Government are initiating the White Paper on Northern Australia from which we hope some more answers and strategies can stem. Getting opportunities in remote areas requires the same strategies as in urban areas, it just takes more work and effort. On top of having four amazing representatives for the whole region, we also have communities accepting that opportunity can and should be theirs and who are working hard, in spite of the tough times, to see this vision come to reality.

Warren Entsch announced $210 Million for roads and infrastructure in Cape York earlier this year.1The upgrades this money will be able to afford will be crucial to linking Cape York to Cairns by road (a far cheaper option of travel than via air). This will see Far North Queensland more closely linked which is the first step towards building a better economic future. This task won’t be over night, the Peninsular Development Road (PDR) is one of the longest and, seasonally, the most difficult to access; it’s during that time that we must lay the foundation for growth.

We must revitalise the tourism industry and get visitors to travel beyond Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. We must also be sensible about the marine environment and know that there is such a thing as sustainable usage. We must accept that small fishing trawlers are not harmful to fish populations. By supporting a local fishing industry yet again we can see Australian seafood more affordable and on plates. By making the right trade agreements we can see Far North Queensland once again be one of Australia’s best sources of beef and farming produce- an industry which has been mostly lost.

While funding has been cut to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander portfolio which more directly impacts regions like Cape York, there is simply no point in funding projects in regions which are needing in other more urgent areas such as access. There needs to be all-season roads to remote communities before they can be viable and begin holistic growth. Roads are pavements, paving the future.

The $210 Million committed by the Abbott government is unprecedented and no matter which area, public or private or which area of the public service you work for, everybody from the Far North agrees that the need for roads of the 21st century in rural and remote places is a must. In this sense the Federal Budget has actually delivered for the Far North and for Cape York, as there can be no further progress if this isn’t done properly. The Federal Government finally has its priorities for Northern Australia right ensuring the right funding is spent the right way for the future benefit of remote Aussies.

I understand the tough saving measures the Abbott government have implemented but these measures, designed to bring the Federal Budget back on track, will be pointless without the Federal Government making the right decisions to nurture our home-grown economy. The Federal Government needs to remove the red and Green tape which has asphyxiated rural Australians and our industries. Far North Queensland could be more than the reef and mining, with access we could also be fishing (again), both commercial and hobby, with vibrant eco-tourism Cape wide.

Jack Wilkie-Jan is a an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate and a Board Member of Cape York Sustainable Futures Inc.

1  http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/wt/releases/2014/january/wt002_2014.aspx