Menzies House Australia's leading online community for conservative, libertarian, classical liberal and other centre-right thinkers! Mon, 13 Feb 2017 02:14:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Biggest & Best Event Of The Year! Mon, 13 Feb 2017 02:14:25 +0000 It is with great delight that I can finally let you know that registration for the biggest, the best, the most exciting pro-liberty conference in the Asia Pacific region is finally open.

That’s right, registration is now open for the 5th ALS Friedman Conference, with a lineup of speakers, events, and contests you just won’t believe.

In addition to some of the best speakers from not just Australia, but over a dozen international speakers, this years conference will include interactive workshops, hands on activism training, filming with YouTube sensations, debates on topical issues like the Trump Phenomenon, student-led sessions highlighting the leaders of tomorrow, and a chance win a staggering $5,000 in our “Shark Tank” contest! Not to mention our line up of panels, speakers, discussions, and the Gala Dinner & Presentation of the Liberty Awards. If you thought last year’s conference was good, believe me, it has nothing compared to the epic we have planned for 2017.


Just some of the great international speakers we have include:

Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason Magazine, and one of the United States’ most widely respected commentators;Professor Mike Munger from Duke University, considered one of the world’s best public choice economists; Austin Peterson, former candidate for US President for Libertarian Party Nomination; Matthew Sinclair, my personal hero, and known as the best issues campaigner alive today, responsible for campaigns such as “Mash The Beer Tax” in the UK which succeeded in forcing the Government to CUT the beer tax for the first time in a half century; Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute in London; Rory Bromfield, Director of The Pro-Brexit “Better Off Out” Campaign; Libertarian activist and author Avens O’Brien,  Naomi Brockwell, A producer on the Stossel Show formerly on Fox News, and Policy Director of Blockchain Tech Corp, Jordan Williams from the NZ Taxpayers’ Union and Zoltan Kesz, a member of the Hungarian Parliament!

Our Australian speakers include: Ross Cameron, Former Liberal MP and Sky News Commentator; Mark Latham, the controversial former Australian Leader of the Labor Party; Lorraine Findlay, Law Lecturer at Murdoch University and anti 18C activist, Theresa Moltoni OAM, President of the Queensland Chamber of Commerce, Professor Suri Ratnapala, Emeritus Professor at The University of Queensland, Professor Wolfgang Kasper, Dr Tanvir Ahmed,Sydney based psychiatrist and author of Fragile Nation, and Andrew Bragg Director of Policy & Research of the Menzies Research Centre.

And that’s only just the start! For a full list of speakers visit

We are currently going through a period of profound change not just in Australia, but around the world. Disenchantment with politics as usual is at an all time high as people are desperate for something different. This years Friedman Conference will address the heart of these issues, providing a way forward, and is one you simply can not afford to miss. There will be disagreement, there will be debate, but there will be intellectual stimulation, great people, and a fantastic time for all.

The Conference shall be held in Sydney, at the Aerial UTS Function Centre in Ultimo from 28-30 of April. Different packages to suit your budget are available, and for further information and to secure your spot please visit Last years conference sold out with close to 350 attendees attending, so be sure to get your tickets quick! 


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SA to ban the advertising of life-saving vaping technology Tue, 22 Nov 2016 03:50:26 +0000 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.

The SA government officially states “regulations will protect the community from the potential harms of [vaping] and reduce the likelihood that children will be attracted to the devices.” This statement alone shows a fundamental misunderstanding of both vaping and nicotine that stands to be corrected.

Proven to be no more addictive or harmful than coffee, nicotine does not present the same harm in vaping devices as it does in regular cigarettes. Nicotine in vaping does not create a toxic reaction like in cigarettes because it mixes with water instead of heat. Nicotine in vaping does not accompany the number of harmful carcinogens in regular smoking like tar. Treating both devices as equally dangerous is more of a risk to public health than recognising the relative differences between them.

Treating vaping and tobacco as equally dangerous is more of a risk to public health than recognising the relative differences between them.

This is why policy makers in the United Kingdom and the United States heed the concerns of public health officials and actively encourage smokers to use vaping a means of weaning out the addiction on tobacco. Both our state and federal governments must catch up with the rest of the world if they are truly concerned about “protecting the community” in the name of public health.

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Legalise nicotine vaping as a harm reduction solution for tobacco smoking Mon, 14 Nov 2016 23:08:23 +0000 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.

E-cigarettes or ‘vapes’ are one of these alternatives. More than 6 million citizens of the EU have kicked their tobacco habit by puffing vapes loaded with nicotine instead. Nicotine, a component of cigarettes which satiates cravings, is a non-carcinogenic, non-pharmaceutical which is already incorporated into anti-smoking aids such as gums. Nicotine-loaded vapes are now openly recommended as one of the most effective smoking cessation tools by both public and independent health authorities in the UK.

It poses no significant long-term health risks when used in concentrations appropriate or commonly favoured by vapers.

Yet paradoxically, Australia’s health bodies have failed to catch up with the times and nicotine solutions for vaping are still listed under Schedule 7 of the Australian Poisons Standard which renders them illegal for sale. Though they are available for ‘therapeutic’ use, (read: with a doctor’s prescription), this makes them hard to access and makes it even harder for smokers looking for a safe alternative.

What makes this state of affairs more bizarre is that nicotine dissolved in water is treated the same way as highly addictive and harmful opiates. All the while, tobacco-laced cigarettes which are far more dangerous to both active and passive smokers continue to be accessible.

Detractors contend that vaping represents an untested danger – by legalising it, we risk presenting it as ‘cool’ and therefore attracting a large segment of non-smokers including easily impressionable children.

But the evidence we have says otherwise. A 2014 US study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that despite the prevalence of e-cigarettes in that country, it was highly unlikely that anyone who was a non-smoker of regular cigarettes had taken up e-cigarettes. It also found that of the small number who had smoked only e-cigarettes, the frequency of use was 1-2 days a week on average. This indicates that the net benefit of legalising nicotine-loaded e-liquids outweighs the risk that non-smokers will adopt e-cigarettes.

Other research available demonstrates that the harms associated with nicotine use are overwhelmingly caused by its delivery to the lungs within toxic particles released when a tobacco leaf combusts, as it does when you fire up a cigarette, not by nicotine itself. The harms are significant and well documented. Smoking is a major cause of cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory illness, as well as degraded welfare and wellbeing. Each year, smoking kills an estimated 15,000 Australians and costs Australia $31.5 billion in social (including health) and economic costs.

Nicotine vaping is a relatively new technology and there are currently no studies confirming the precise effects of long-term vaping. But given the value of nicotine-loaded vaping as a harm minimisation and tobacco cessation tool advocated by multiple studies and the overwhelming evidence that it is far less harmful than legal tobacco, the sale of safe quantities of nicotine-loaded e-liquids should be legalised in Australia. It is both the moral and the pragmatic thing to do.

It would also be in keeping with the policy of the UK, the EU and recently, New Zealand, which have reported significant net benefits in reducing the severity of this leading cause of mortality and illness in Australia. New Zealand’s legalisation of these solutions means that we could even be looking at a large and tough to regulate black market in Australia and this should compel us to take action.

16% of Australian adults are currently engaged in smoking and when it comes to harm reduction, time is of the essence.

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BREAKING: Australia Supporting Attack On Media Freedom, Transparency Tue, 08 Nov 2016 19:33:00 +0000 In a shocking attack on fundamental concepts of media freedom and government accountability, the Australian Delegation at the World Health Organisation’s WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Meeting currently under way in Delhi voted to eject all journalists and observers from the room, so that negotiations could be conducted in secret without any public scrutiny.

This meeting, partially funded by Australian taxes, and costing millions, is expected to call for further regulation of life-saving tobacco harm reduction technologies, in a move many say is designed to protect government cigarette tax revenues.

As discussions were going on, in a move fully supported by the Australian delegation, journalists wanting to report on proceedings were physically removed from the room by security:

The United Nations, under which the WHO falls, has consistently proclaimed its support for press freedom, with outgoing Secretary Ban Ki Moon stating “I urge all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media. Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered. With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all.”

So it is particularly disgraceful that the United Nations is refusing to apply this rule to itself.


But that’s not all – the FCTC then started blocking journalists on Twitter. Not content with refusing them access to the negotiations, they are now engaging on a vicious campaign of blocking anyone from following them!

This is a meeting funded by Australian taxes.  Our taxpayers have a right to know how our money is being spent and it is a shameful disgrace that our government has acted to suppress transparency, accountability, and freedom of the press.

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Welfare Should Not Pay More Than Work Fri, 28 Oct 2016 05:15:04 +0000 It has been revealed that thousands of parents are earning more by going on welfare than they do by working. This harmful policy development is both unfair and unsustainable for Australian taxpayers. Extensive reforms are necessary to ensure that there are plenty more incentives to work, rather than to stay on the dole.

Figures obtained by the Australian show that the top 10 per cent of those on parenting benefits received at least $45,032 in 2014-15. With a range of further benefits including family tax benefits and childcare rebates, there are more financial rewards for staying on welfare than there are for obtaining a full time career.

In detail:

“Under the current system, a single parent with four children who did not work and was not ¬receiving child support income could receive more than $50,000 a year from the government, the equivalent of someone earning $65,000 a year before tax, such as a full-time teacher, nurse or entry-level public servant.

A single parent with four children aged 13, 10, seven and four years, who paid $400 a week in rent without any employment ¬income or child support, would ¬receive a basic parenting payment of $738.50 a fortnight, along with an energy supplement of $12 a fortnight and a pharmaceutical allowance of $6.20 fortnight.

This provides a base payment of $19,728 a year, which would then be augmented by family tax benefits A and B, further supplements for each child and rent ¬assistance, which would pay an extra $32,331 a year.
Finally, energy supplements for each child receiving family tax benefits would total an additional $463 a year, bringing the total take-home pay to $52,523.”

By comparison:

“The median full-time wage for 2014-15 was $61,300 a year. After tax, this leaves the median wage at $49,831. However, the median overall wage — including part-time workers — was $46,500, which equates to $39,841 as take-home pay after tax.

The difference between a $52, 523 income on welfare and $39, 841 salary from working is extraordinary, and falls well out of range of the Australian way. Instead of seeking to ease the burden on working families, successive legislation has imposed unnecessary costs on working families to pay for unnecessary dole entitlements for non-working families.

Our unchecked welfare system has enforced excessive financial and opportunity costs for working families in the present day, but what is even more alarming are the costs it will impose on the next generation:

“Taxpayers will spend an ­estimated $191 billion on future welfare payments for all people currently receiving the Parenting Payment, with current recipients having the highest average future lifetime cost of all payment groups, at $441,000 per person.”

With both Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Treasurer Scott Morrison urgently calling on the need for welfare reform, this is one of the most important issues for Australian taxpayers that has to be addressed as soon as possible.

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Sign the petition: Gillian Triggs must resign! Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:03:46 +0000 The latest revelations of her misleading parliament are the last straw.

Professor Triggs, who earns a $408,000 a year annual package as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, is unfit to hold office.

In the last three years she has not just mislead parliament. She has:

Visit and sign the petition today!

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No more taxes on our music industry! Wed, 26 Oct 2016 07:44:46 +0000 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.

This is a huge problem. The festival scene is the heartbeat of live music in Australia today. Festivals bring in a large number of acts and provide an economically feasible way to see many of the acts you love at a single event – with heightened visa fees, come heightened ticket prices. Festivals also provide a great way for new acts to be discovered and this is something we desperately need in Australia where local acts gain exposure by performing on the same stage as big international ones. Festivals also provide opportunity for individual acts to run ‘side-shows’, fostering the live music scene as a whole and allowing you to see bands who might otherwise not consider making the considerable jump across the pond.

But it isn’t just concert goers and musicians who will be hurt by the changes. The Australian performing Arts industry includes performers as well as backstage crews, security detail, lighting and sound guys, tech wizards.. the unsung heroes. When touring costs more, these are the battlers who lose work and with some of the developed world’s least friendly laws applying to live music in cities, it is a hit they don’t need.

On the plus side, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The changes actually benefit those bringing out smaller bands/individual acts to Australia for periods less than three months since a nomination fee previously paid by promoters will be scrapped. But when it comes to the harm caused by hurting the festival scene – a scene already suffering from heavy-handed, cost-imposing regulations about drug and security policy, this benefit doesn’t provide a lot of comfort.

In recent years, festivals including Soundwave and Stereosonic have folded as they are no longer economically viable. The Macq Liberal Club believes that the government’s priority should be reducing costs and red tape for organisers rather than increasing them.

The Turnbull government has rightly made technology and innovation one of its top priorities and this reform may be well intended. But as lovers of freedom, pragmatism, business efficacy and extremely dank bass drops, the Macq Liberal Club disagrees with the government’s decision. Changes to technology and processes are meant to make it easier, not harder for local and international industry to operate in Australia and for our consumers to enjoy the finer things in life such as heavy riffs and guitar solos. In this regard, the visa fee hike for touring acts falls flat.

Satyajeet Marar is a Macquarie University Law student currently interning for the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.

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You have the right: to go to gaol! Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:52:27 +0000 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.

In 1992, in the case of Dietrich v The Queen the High Court of Australia found that not being able to obtain counsel, by no fault of your own amounted to a miscarriage of justice, and that the accused’s trial be stayed until counsel could be obtained. Effectively it meant that you had the right to counsel at trial. Thanks to successive cuts at State and Federal level to legal aid, those below the poverty line cannot obtain counsel. Just the other day I witnessed an unrepressed accused, attempting to bumble his way through a cross examination. What hope of a fair trial does he have? Especially against the might of the Crown, who were armed with a Queen’s Counsel and junior. For a fair and just system, legal aid needs proper funding. This is a prime example of where the money for the plebiscite could go. After all, the government are willing to spend over $15 million on an opinion poll. This would mean no extra spending, but would ensure the wheels of justice actually turn.

The lack of counsel at trial is clearly an issue, but it gets worse. Barry O’Farrell and Mike Baird decided that the right to silence had to go, in the interest of ‘justice’. So they brought in Section 89A of the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW). Meaning a jury or judge (as NSW also has judge alone trials), must draw adverse inferences from the accused opting to remain silent. The first thing that this provision does, is start eroding the concept that the prosecution must prove its case, rather than the accused/defendant must disprove it. That is at the core of the right to silence. That the accused does not have to say or do anything, and the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. This new provision, is forcing the accused to take the stand and testify. Often in circumstances when they may well not have to or want to. Now if the accused opts to remain silent, a jury must look unfavourably upon it.

Another big issue facing the New South Wales criminal justice system is defence disclosure. Again, traditionally the prosecution had to prove its case. Provide all evidence it intended to adduce at trial to the defence, and that the defence did not have to offer such a courtesy to the prosecution. Now that has all changed. The Criminal Procedure Amendment (Mandatory Pre-trial Defence Disclosure) Act 2013 (NSW) has now forced the defence to hand over all evidence it intends to adduce in support of the defence’s case, to the prosecution. Once again the traditional procedure of the crown proving their case is being eroded by the NSW Government. As Graham Thomas QC stated: “I see innocent until proven guilty as being a highly significant and important feature of our legal system.”

The biggest problem, over the whole of the Commonwealth, is the drastic cuts to legal aid funding. The High Court held in Dietrich v The Queen, that if the accused cannot obtain counsel by no fault of their own, then the trial should be stayed until counsel can be sought. Successive governments have cut funding to legal aid to a point where people who are on welfare are no longer able to get legal representation. This right is no longer being adhered to because of this. People are going before the Courts unrepresented. This is an outrageous injustice. Representation should not just be for criminal law matters; justice is more than just the criminal law. Those who go before the courts unopposed will suffer a significant unfairness as they are unable to properly present their argument to the Court. Again, this is not just criminal law matters, but land law matters such as caveats and restrictive covenants. Personal injury and the list just goes on.

So what is the solution? It seems very clear cut. Firstly, abolish these laws that jeopardize the rights of the accused. People will still be convicted if they go. The proof is in the history of Australian criminal law. Convictions occurred before the provisions were enacted. So they can go.

The money that was allocated to this divisive plebiscite, should now be allocated to properly funding legal aid.

James Penny is a 4th Year law student at ACU

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Why Is Our Government Refusing To Save People’s Lives? Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:11:01 +0000 Imagine there was a way to save hundreds of thousands of lives and save the Australian taxpayer hundreds of million dollars a year in healthcare costs.

Imagine if such a technology existed. And experts all over the world have proven that there was no risk involved – just the potential to save lives.

Wouldn’t this be something? Wouldn’t it be miraculous? We would be singing and dancing in the streets!

The fact is that such a technology does exist – and the Australian government has made it illegal.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in Australia. Millions of Australians can’t break the habit and die as a result.

Yet now a new technology – vaping – has arrived which helps smokers to quit. By delivering nicotine through water vapour, they still get their fix – but with none of the carcinogenic tars or chemicals involved in the burning of tobacco. It is a proven safe way to get people to quit and save lives.

The evidence is clear: As an expert independent evidence review published by Public Health England concluded: vaping is 95% safer than smoking and helps smokers quit. The UK Royal College of Physicians has begged for governments to  support vaping as the best way to prevent death and disability from tobacco use. In fact, 40 of the leading public health activists in Australia and around the world have begged the Australian government to make this life-saving technology legal.

Why is our government standing in the way of saving people’s lives?

This is not a case of the government being wrong or misguided. This is a case of the government standing in the way of saving people’s lives. It is morally reprehensible, and we need to do something about it.

This is why the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, in conjunction with MyChoice Australia, have launched a new campaign for the Australian government to legalise vaping.

Please join our campaign at and tell your representatives that you support legalising vaping.

Because lives are literally at stake. Click HERE to join the campaign. It will take only a minute – but will make a real difference.

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United Nations Calls for a 20% Soft Drinks & Juice Tax Wed, 12 Oct 2016 05:28:34 +0000 The United Nations Health Agency has recently called on all countries to implement of “at least 20%” on sugar sweetened beverages to curb the epidemic of global obesity. This is a sensible suggestion at first glance, but this exact tax has been tried in many countries and has had no or minimal effect on obesity. This is a public policy suggestion based in intentions and not actual results, leading to many unintended consequences.

The tax is meant to increase the price of sugar sweetened beverages which leads to a decrease in consumption and improved health outcomes of people. But this tax has led to a minimal reduction in energy consumption with the Rural Health Minister, Fiona Nash calling this tax “a lazy solution to a complex problem.”

Firstly, the tax gets partly absorbed by the business’ and partly by the consumer. Secondly, consumers instead of reducing energy consumption, have moved to inferior goods which are more affordable, along with substituting energy in other areas like food. People are inelastic with their energy consumption which means it’s hard to tax people into health, without causing many other problems. This was exemplified with the Danish fat tax which saw 90% of people not change their dietary habits. And also New Zealand where sugar consumption decreased 11% for males while obesity soared 63%.

This tax has the potential of threatening many sugar industry jobs and incur huge economic costs for minor health benefits. For every $1 of health savings from the sugar tax in the UK, taxpayers’ pay about $65. The indirect health outcomes are minuscule compared to the tax paid.

This tax, like any other consumption tax, is regressive, and affects the poorest people the most. This is especially bad since the poorest people are the least elastic group with their food consumption.

This is an irresponsible band aid solution from the UN which will cause more harm than good.

Cody Findlay is an intern at The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance

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