Partnership with ATA

The Australian Libertarian Society (ALS) has existed in Australia for over 12 years, promoting libertarian ideas and helping to bring together libertarians around Australia in forums and occasional events. However, the ALS is a purely volunteer body with no money or resources.

To keep relevant as we move forward, we have decided to partner with the Australian Taxpayers Alliance, who have been active in Australia since 2012.

The ALS and ATA share a belief in shrinking the size of government, reducing tax, and decreasing the amount of regulations and nanny state rules. Having said that, the two organisations approach these goals in slightly different ways — with ATA bringing together a broader coalition of anti-tax advocates and engaging in more retail activism, while the ALS focuses more on the philosophy of freedom.

The two organisations are already informally linked, with ATA director (Tim Andrews) being a long-term member of the ALS board, and the ALS director (John Humphreys) currently acting as the deputy director of the ATA. The ALS will continue to operate separately, keeping this name and web address, but some of the administration will be taken over by ATA which already has a more sophisticated structure.

We look forward to starting a new chapter for the ALS, which will be launched with a “libertarian conference” in Sydney later this year. More details coming soon.

The Journal of Peace, Prosperity & Freedom

As editor of Australia’s only journal dedicated to advancing research in “Austrian” free-market economics and libertarian political philosophy, I invite you to browse the articles from the first issue, available for free online.

Physical copies can be ordered from Amazon for only $8. Please do contribute an article for the second edition.

Who Should I Vote For In The US Election?

Yesterday, I received my absentee ballot for the US election.

I remain genuinely undecided as to who to vote for between Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson.

I was initially intending to vote for Gov. Johnson, however I am rather compelled by the argument that with 3 SCOTUS justices in all likelihood retiring  in the next presidential term, that this election has slightly some long-term ramifications in an area where I do believe Romney will be significantly better to President Obama.

On the Other hand… it is Romney.

So. Crowd-sourcing here. What should I do?

Potential relevant factor: I am registered in Virginia where the RCP Polling Average has Obama leading by just 0.4%.

Your rights at work.

This article was originally posted at http://www.menzieshouse.com.au

“Your rights at work” words that in 2007 brought down the Howard government. The idea that an individual statutory contract could remove pay and condition guaranteed under industrial awards and enterprise bargaining agreements was enough to get voters to take a chance on Labor. The idea that access to service or minimum conditions are “rights” has become so ingrained in our society that almost no one has challenged the notion that such conditions are rights or seriously raised the question do such rights violate peoples’ more fundamental rights.

This issue can be understood by comparing positive rights with negative rights. From the 20th century on, the definition of what could be considered a right has changed from negative rights which protect individual freedom, such as free speech, the right to a fair trial or the right to enter a contract to positive rights, such as the right to an education or healthcare. The problem with positive rights is that unlike negative rights they aren’t a person’s by birth. Positive rights usually require some restriction on another person’s freedom. For example, for me to have the right to education, that by definition forces someone else to pay for it. By comparison the right free speech is mine and all that right does is protect me from someone taking that right away from me.

If one accepts individual freedom as basis for all rights, then workers’ rights cannot be consider rights in the traditional sense. In fact, minimum wages and awards significantly restrict individual freedom. If I wanted to start a career working for a consulting firm but my current skill set doesn’t justify the minimum pay required by industrial regulation then my freedom and the freedom of the employer would have been significantly restricted. Most likely the outcome would be that I would remain unemployed.
A more relevant example to many disadvantaged jobseekers is the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010 which covers most jobs in the hospitality sector. Under this award it is illegal to pay someone less than $17.88 an hour for an adult employed in a casual capacity. While this may seem to be a small amount to many of us, for some people entering the labour market with insufficient education or life skills this can be a major barrier to employment. For example, someone who has never worked before may need constant supervision, in reality the time spent supervising this person initially may exceed the value of their labour. Preventing such a jobseeker from working at a price an employer is willing to employ them for is violation of their basic right to sell their labour and to enter into contracts.

Much of the industrial relations debate has been framed in the context of international competitiveness and profitability. These arguments have fundamentally missed the point. Employers have no more right to cheap labour then employees have rights to high wages. Ultimately, both parties should be free to pursue their self-interest. The argument against restrictive industrial relations regulations should be argued on the basis of individual freedom.

Cigarette plain packaging, has it worked on illicit drugs?

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Today Big Prohibition is celebrating its High Court victory over ‘Big Tobacco’ on the issue of plain packaging of cigarettes.  Tobacco companies had challenged the legislation to have all cigarettes sold in drab green packs without logos or company identification on the basis of denial of intellectual and other property rights.

In retrospect, this may have been a mistake as property rights are not a widely respected concept in Australia.  Rural landholders have largely borne the brunt of the assault on private property until now with a myriad of laws restricting their rights to carry out activities, from building right through to weed control.  A quick check with them would have let Phillip Morris know, it was flogging a dead horse on the issue. Continue reading

Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance Launch

If you havn’t read about this already, I’d like to formally announce to all ALS supporters that I’m soon formally launching the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, as a free-market grassroots activist/advocacy organisation. You can check out www.taxpayers.org.au for more information, including the business plan, constitution, Board of Advisers etc.

The official launch is in Sydney on 1 May, and I’d love to have as many freedom-fighters join us as possible! You can register to attend here, and if you use the code SUPPORTER, you will get a 33% discount!