Tuesday 4 August 2015

The man taking on the Australian nanny state

I've got a new piece up on Spectator Health today in which I interview the Australian politician David Leyonhjelm who has recently launched a Senate Inquiry into the nanny state.

Last September, a 20-year-old man was retrieving a goose he had shot in Australia’s Northern Territory when a crocodile dragged him by his right arm into some wetlands with a view to eating him. Undaunted, the man poked the croc in the eyes and escaped. Covered in teeth and claw marks, he made his way to an outstation, medicated himself with Carlton Dry beer and was visibly intoxicated by the time the police arrived. Offered a lift to hospital by air ambulance, he insisted on driving instead. 

Time magazine described this gentleman as the ‘world’s most Australian man’, but his no-nonsense outback spirit is becoming a remnant of the past in an increasingly risk-averse nanny state. A manically interventionist Labor government was removed from office in 2013 but the paternalism remains. Go to any Australian city and you will be surrounded by signs telling you what you can and can’t do. In Sydney, it is illegal to buy a shot of alcohol after midnight and those who want to smoke must not only go outside but also be seated. You can no longer buy a drink anywhere in Australia’s biggest city after 3am. Vaping is banned indoors in several states and it is illegal everywhere to sell e-cigarette fluid if it contains nicotine, which is rather the point of e-cigarette fluid. 

It’s not just health and safety. In June, the Senate voted to tighten up the country’s notorious internet filter. Australia has the longest list of prohibited video games in the world (with the possible exception of China) and has banned more than 200 since March 2015. Other proposals that have not yet become law include breathalysing pedestrians and banning jogging at lunchtime. 

One politician has had enough and has launched an official Senate inquiry into the nanny state. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Inquiry into Personal Choice and Community Impacts will pay particular attention to alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, marijuana, bicycle helmets, and censorship classifications, but he encourages Australians to come forward with information about ‘anything that restricts their personal choice’.

Do read the rest...

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