SA to ban the advertising of life-saving vaping technology

The SA government has recently announced a ban on the advertising of vaping products, despite their potential to significantly reduce the active and passive harm of tobacco.

Taking on the recommendations of a 2016 Select Committee, the SA government is seeking to “regulate” vaping in order to “prohibit the sale to children.” However, the decision to ban the advertising and usage of vaping in enclosed areas is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Not only will it do little to encourage the 15.7% of South Australian adolescents to quit smoking, it will have the unintended consequence of increasing smoking among younger people.

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Legalise nicotine vaping as a harm reduction solution for tobacco smoking

Originally published on Online Opinion

By Satyajeet Marar

The 7th WHO Conference of the Parties (COP7) is coming soon to sunny Delhi, India and on the agenda for the 180 odd countries and international associations will be the spectre of tobacco.

We’ve known about the full devastation of tobacco for decades now. We know that it is one of the most potent carcinogens in the world. We also know that it is also one of the world’s most lucrative drugs… for governments – a veritable coughing and sputtering cash cow.

But at a time when it is costing our public healthcare system millions of dollars and killing many Australians despite our best efforts to tax it and to replace its labelling with edgy pictures of decomposing organ tissue, it is time to consider any practical harm-reduction alternative that has proven its effectiveness.

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No more taxes on our music industry!

Satyajeet Marar argues that the music industry should not be hit with another burdensome tax.

Originally published on Grapeshot: Macquarie University Student Publication

The recent changes to the touring visa system for foreign performers are designed to cut red tape by moving the process online. In theory, this should foster the live music scene in Australia by cutting through the bureaucracy concert organisers face when bringing in acts from overseas. Unfortunately, this won’t be the case since the costs for the new system are being recouped by hiking up visa fees and scrapping the group touring discount previously relied upon by organisers of festivals and other events bringing in multiple performers.

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You have the right: to go to gaol!

James Penny explains the opportunity cost of a divisive plebiscite, which could instead be used to uphold basic legal rights in court.

For many of us, we think we have our rights at trial. Right to silence, counsel, innocence, trial by jury and those other things we seem to think apply as a result of U.S television shows. Welcome to Australia, home of ‘she’ll be right mate’ and where your rights get taken from you. Make no mistake about it, you are living in a police state. Especially those on the Eastern States. Let us not forget the removal of rights at Commonwealth level too, such as preventative detention orders. The free Australia you thought you were living in, is well and truly gone. The other issue, coinciding with all of this, is spectacularly huge cuts to legal aid. Which is grinding our criminal justice system to a halt.

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Warped Policy Priorities: Renewable Energy

Written by Erika Salmon

Currently renewable energy seems to be the new trend in Labour’s and Green’s policy issues, a directive which in typical fashion means tax hikes, increased spending and a conscious blindness to anything that contravenes their do-gooder attitude. Under increasing pressure from international community, Australia is expected to step-up and be the world’s leader in renewable energy. But at what cost? As we’ve seen through the SA experiment, renewable energy isn’t a reliable source of alternative energy, with strong winds making wind mills inoperable and the fact that the renewable energy industry is being propped up via government funding, while at the same time increasing domestic unemployment.

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The Case Against a Sexual Offender Registry

Erika Salmon makes the case against a sexual offender registry in Australia, with a detailed of the negative consequences a registry in the United States. Not only are they ineffective, she argues, but they fundamentally erode constitutional liberty.

Ever since the implementation of the Sex Offender Registry in the U.S. civil liberties have been completely eroded, they are also completely ineffective in preventing and reducing sex crimes. The Sex Offender Registry has eroded constitutional rights to privacy and life while neglecting its core mission to reduce and prevent sexual offences committed. Although the Sex Offender Registry in Australia is a relatively construct, and its public access severely limited, Derryn Hinch expresses sentiments to expanding both the registry and its public availability. This is not only unjust, but as in the US could pave the rode to absurdity, as seemingly harmless crimes are registered under the registry as well.

After the United States introduced the Sex Offender Registry in the 1990s, Australia quickly followed. Since gaining legitimacy and control, the constitutional right to privacy and even to life has been eroded by seemingly well-intentioned government policies. Public access to these registries has only been recently granted in Australia, starting as early as 2012 in Western Australia. This is comparatively better than the US, immediately allowing access to the public in the 1990’s. Following the American example, Australian states and territories insisted on limitations for offenders for up to 15 years after conviction. This included where they can live, who they can associate and what they can read. The consequences of an individual being placed on the sex offender registry by a court are profound. Our courts and legislatures discriminate against sex offenders by treating them differently to others who commit serious offences like murder or fraud.

In 2012, Western Australia was the first of the Australian states and territories to permit public access to specific areas of the sex offender register. This was done through the Community Protection Website (CPW) and the WA government, establishing clear parameters on the level of information available to the public. The register has also inbuilt security and safety mechanisms requiring anyone seeking information to first provide their own. As such, members of the public could only seek information about a convicted repeat offender living in the vicinity of their community. This process enables police to tag any information released and monitor any misuse of information. Recently, the NT government have committed to creating a publicly accessible website listing the names and details of child sex offenders and child homicide offenders. This is all in the name of protecting our children of course, but what’s to stop policymakers from going further? To introducing the same over-arching and over-bearing definitions and legislations concerning sexual offences? In low populated areas, this may also create unnecessary risk for family members of the offender and even make reporting less likely if abuse is perpetrated by a family member.

Currently in the U.S. over one fourth of the people we label as sex offenders are juveniles themselves. The registry currently has over 800,000 people on it, which means that over 200,000 people get put on the registry while they are still in secondary school. The punishment and stigma that can follow them for decades after is inexcusable. A study by Human Rights Watch gave an example of a young boy, Jacob, being found guilty of inappropriately touching his sister when he was 11.Now, 26, Jacob is still on the sex-offender registry, still unable to live near a school, playground or park. (Despite the fact that multiple studies have found residency restrictions redundant in preventing sex crimes. Due to the inherent stigma, and public access of his crimes, he also has an extremely difficult time finding work. The Human Rights Watch concluded, “his life continues to be defined by an offense he committed at age 11”- an offence that most likely didn’t indicate anything other than a young boy’s curiosity and his needing guidance.

Victims of this regime have been persecuted for seemingly harmless acts, such as, drunkenly urinating in public, consensual sex as teenagers, hiring a prostitute, streaking and even sexting. It has become almost absurdist in nature, bureaucratic and governmental tyranny at its finest. The public perception is that “sex offenders” are just child sexual abusers, but the term has expanded ridiculously and considered less than human due to this. In America today, your child is more likely to be labelled as a sex offender, and not be abused by one and isn’t that just twisted?

Sex offender registers were originally built for prevention, not punishment. They were set up as a tool for parents to protect children from child abusers and did not include every sexual offence committed.

In its current form, there is conclusive evidence that registries have little to no impact on reducing criminal sexual behaviour.  Registries were never built for punishment, but as a preventative tool. The original goal of the registries was to protect communities not to further punish the offenders. However, in the case of Brock Turner, it is easy to see the supposed benefits of such a registry. Derryn Hinch of the Justice Party was recently elected to Senate and plans on expanding the WA CPW to a national scale, as well as making all information publicly available. Despite Derryn Hinch’s sentiments of hating vigilantism, what measures will he put in place to protect these offenders? And as he’s basing it on the US system will increase stigmatisation as well as even a governmental encouragement for active prejudice and discrimination follows as well?

In the US, people on the Sex Offender Registry are required to document their movements from state to state, and depending on the state and seriousness of the crime, his name, picture, and information will be publicly listed – permanently. When the registry was first introduced, “sexual predators” were seen as not able to control their urges, and thus citizens needed to modify their own behaviour to prevent crime. The idea that criminals can’t control their own behaviour was replaced by attention to institutional and cultural failures that allow rapes to happen and go unpunished, despite this fact the registry is still going strong.

During the “predator” hype, there were mass allegations and a culture of fear, in lawmaker’s eyes predators could not control themselves, thus all the government could do was help the public protect itself. Activists who originally supported the laws have now begun to oppose it, as they never intended the registry to expand so far beyond child molesters. Theoretically, it’s illegal to discriminate someone on the Sex Offender Registry, however, the limitations they face is above and beyond what others committing crimes are restricted to. It would make sense if the limitations placed on the offender are tailored to the specific crime, but as those on the Sex Offender Registry vary so much, the restrictions become aggregate, and that is wherein the problem lies.

The intended benefit of sex offender registries was intentioned as a greater protection of children — with fewer opportunities for recidivism, sexual predators to attack children, there were supposed to be fewer sex crimes against them. That hasn’t happened. The evidence on registries’ ability to prevent sex crimes is mixed at best. The evidence that residential restrictions prevent sex crimes is non-existent. Studies have estimated that recidivism rates among sex offenders are between 5 to 15 percent, which is relatively low compared to other crimes. Contrary to public perception, the vast majority of people on the registry never offend again. Sex offender registries are generally of little utility and a 2008 study found that registries not only do not show any demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offences but is also extremely costly and does not represent value for taxpayers’ money. Sex offender registry laws are draconian and irrational, especially given the evidence that they have little to no impact on sex offending rates.

The concept of the “stranger danger” focused predator has since been rebuffed as the most common type of sexual abuse is at the hands of an intimate partner or family member is statistically more likely. However, due to the strict registry laws, victims are less inclined to report the abuse due to the permanent collateral damage that that entails. It is not an exaggeration to say that the combination of legal restrictions and social stigma has destroyed lives. Sex offender registries don’t prevent crimes; they merely further punish the offender further.

By putting people who commit sex crimes on a permanent list, the law isn’t only supporting the idea that they’re incapable of controlling their urges, it’s also restricting more specific structural and institutional reformist responses that might better address the reality of sexual harm. The existence of sex-offender registries doesn’t change the fact that rape survivors are often treated more sceptically by the police, than victims of any other crime. It doesn’t address the failure of institutions to treat sexual assault cases with criminal seriousness. And it reinforces the attitude that a normal man couldn’t possibly be a rapist.

Currently, sex offender registries that were originally meant to protect our children are now acting as sacrificial lambs to the nanny-state and the do-gooders of the political and legislature spectrum. The quote “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” has never been more relevant than now. Now, underage sexual curiosity and sex have been criminalised and we are crucifying them on the political alters we built to protect them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, the most common age that people are charged is 14. By trying to protect our children from the monsters under the bed, we have allowed big government to introduce laws that punish juveniles for innocent curiosity. Social conventions and perceived rites of passage have been outlawed and for what? Registries are not preventing crimes or reducing recidivism rates, but they are ruining lives. The government is perceiving children are both the victim and the perpetrator and in turn is making a hit list. Inspired by puritanical American ideals, is that what is to come for Australian sex registries?

Politicians and law enforcement need to acknowledge that people can do dumb things, even sexual things and not be irredeemable monsters. Right now, that’s not a big political talking point, but it should be. In an incident in New Jersey: Two 14-year-olds pulled down their pants and sat on a 12-year-olds face. It is disgusting and reprehensible, but the punishment was even more so. Under Megan’s Law, they are now on the sex offenders’ registry for life. An appellate court upheld the sentence in 2011, consequently both these young men will be on the registry until they die. They’ll be treated are perennial perverts for something they did as adolescents. Frankly, the age that people are being registered as sex-offenders is appalling, but so is the registry itself and despite that is been shown over and over again that it does not make our children any safer it continues to become more extreme and over-reaching. It is pointlessly excessive and give politicians the easy way to act as if they care about children and safety, while actually ruining people’s lives.

Sex offender registry laws are draconian and irrational, especially given the evidence that they have little to no impact on sex offending rates. The idea that a person who is convicted of a sex offence that occurred 30 or 40 years ago and should be placed on a register today and be subject to its hardship is not only retrospective but completely goes against the rule of law. Placing a person on a sex offender register should be viewed as a punishment given the negative impact it has on an individual’s privacy, freedom of movement, economic liberty, and even playing PokemonGo and if the offence occurred prior to the register becoming law then it is unfair to impose this punishment now, this one-size-fits-all approach has pretended to answer all problems – when in reality, answers none. These severe laws and restrictions have led to suicides and executions via vigilantes, the state has become the monster under the bed for these children and is ultimately robbing them of everything for little community benefit.

These laws are now, not so much as protecting them from predators as they are perpetrating them as such. The rise of “youthful sex offenders” is not the result of our kids becoming more perverted or aggressive, but rather criminalising consensual sex between those under the age of 18. They are criminals not because they necessarily violated the life, liberty, or property of another person (unlike are the US government), but rather because politicians are defining them as criminals. People from both sides of the political spectrum are supporting these laws, all in the name of “saving the children”, and extending totalitarian policies of the state to further control people’s lives and values. The sex offender registry has turned into the new Salem witch hunts, it is the new age of McCarthyism and anyone can be the next victim.

The good thing is that most of these horror stories are the products of an American puritan regime and are in no way occurring in Australia. But, how long till our ideals mirror those of the US? Will our ‘good intentions’ get the better of us and follow the American example? Introducing sex offender registries in Australia is discrimination against one type of criminal over others, with little or no reduction in criminal behaviour.

America is rethinking the size and control of these registries and Australia policymakers and courts should follow suit before it’s too late.

Erika Salmon is a NSW Regional Coordinator at Australia and New Zealand for Liberty and is also undertaking an internship with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Look At All That Diversity

By Justin Campbell

Last night the Australian Greens stood up for Australia’s multicultural diversity by walking out of Senator Hanson’s maiden speech. Naturally, they had a cameraman on hand to record this heroic act. Senator Di Natale gave a touching speech on how his own family had experienced racism 50 years ago.

Looking at this group of heroes, I couldn’t but help notice how diverse they were. I mean when your party’s poster child for diversity is a former surgeon from an Italian-Australian background, you’re really grasping at straws. As he spoke, a bunch of white-middle class faces nodded intently behind him. “Yes, indeed Australia’s multicultural fabric needs to be protected.” They all thought in unison.

So just how diverse are the Greens?

Sarah-Hanson Young: White, Female, University Educated.

Richard Di Natale: White, Male, University Educated.

Larissa Waters: White, Female, University Educated.

Scott Ludlam: White, Male, University Educated. (Born in NZ, that’s worth half a minority point)

Rachel Siewert: White, Female, University Educated.

Peter Stuart Whish-Wilson: White, Male, University Educated/Military.

Lee Rhiannon: White, Female, University Educated (Points for being a crazy old communist though)

Nick McKim: White, Male, Former Prisoner/Environmental Tour Guide

Janet Rice: White, Female, University Educated.


That’s a lot of white middle class privilege in one little room. Luckily, white people can understand and interpret the cultural experience of ethnic minorities. Oh wait they can’t.

40% opposition can just lose you an election

By Henry Innis


Most people support the lockout laws.

Most people support the greyhound ban.

Yet, since these things have come into play, an odd thing has happened. The Baird Government’s support has been tanking in recent polls, down 4% on the election result that won him government.


People point to these large polls and seem to think that there must be another issue at play. Is it the federal issues (given Baird bucking the trend with Abbott, the evidence suggests no)? Is it economic troubles?


I’d suggest it’s neither. The polls around greyhound bans and lockout laws may tell us more than we think.

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On the Question of Political Donations

By Rowan Cravey

There are many maligned things in political life. Spending money on ski trips or chartering chopper transportation are two examples, but the most incendiary issue of the now, is the one of donations.

In the majority of the public’s eye, donations essentially equal corruption most foul and should be spat on at the earliest possible convenience. They ‘buy’ politicians as serial narcissistic peacock, Nick Xenophon would allege. They influence policy direction for the benefit of the highest bidder, so to speak.

This is foolish. The Greens and some leftist minor parties have made huge hay out of claiming the higher moral ground and greater righteousness simply because fewer people donate to them. Creating a dichotomy between the donated-to and the not-donated-to is just another way for them to set themselves as different to the major parties, and therefore worth paying attention to.

While political games are the usual for the political class, this fallacy and morphed into what is cast as an utter certainty. Donations at their most basic, are supporters of a political party or individual who wish to see them win government or positions of influence, because they believe in what they stand for. This theoretically leads to policy development that will align with the donators beliefs. The more cynical view of donations, as oft proclaimed by the Greens and others like Xenophon, is that the money is given solely for the purpose of bribing a party to shape policy simply for the benefit of those who donate most. But there is a missing link in all of this.

The missing link is action. Governments must still put into action policy that either reflects the donators interests, or the party’s stated beliefs and principles. If the Government receives cash from a donator, then can simply say thank you for your support, and then move on to policy development, independent from the donators wishes. The causal link of donations to action is simply not there.


The question of political donations looms higher than ever with Senator Dastyari’s recent actions

Indeed, those who are willing to be influenced by donations, such as ‘junior senator’ Sam Dastyari, are a problem, but in the end, garish difference of advocacy and inconsistency between himself and the rest of Labor have led to being outed. While Dastyari’s conduct is deplorable, the presence of mandatory disclosure of donations is a strong force to ensure accountability and transparency. But in the end, donations are simply not the problem, not the root of any problem. Politicians willing to be bought and be puppets for the highest bidder are.


Rowan Cravey is currently interning for the Australian Taxpayers’ Aliance