The 2016 John Bonython Lecture with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The CIS is delighted to welcome back to Australia our good friend and brave women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan will be speaking in Melbourne for one night only, to deliver our annual John Bonython Lecture on Thursday, 12 May 2016.

Somali-born Ayaan is the founder of the AHA Foundation which works to bring an end to honour killings and related violence around the world; a former member of the Dutch parliament; and author of best-selling books Nomad, Infidel and Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.

She joins us to share her thoughts on the current challenges faced by liberal democracies in an era of jihad and mass migration.

Event details:

Date: Thursday, 12 May 2016

Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Where: The Melbourne City Conference Centre, 333 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Cost: $50.00

Bookings are essential at or by calling (02) 9438 4377

Please note that this is a ticketed event and a postal address is required upon registration. All bookings are transferable but non-refundable. If you wish to transfer a booking you must advise the organisers of the name change at your earliest convenience by calling (02) 9438 4377 or email [email protected]

Media enquiries: Karla Pincott | [email protected]

Posted in Cultural Issues, Gratuitous Advertising | 10 Comments

I am probably going to offend people here, but ….

Last week we read that the Commonwealth Government announced that $50 billion will be spent to build submarines in South Australia (or possible the South of France).

So thorough the capitulation, that the Labor Party had absolutely nothing to say.  This is the Labor Party of Bill “Govern Like a Union Leader” Shorten and Stephen “NBN Dalek” Conroy.  Senator Conroy had NOTHING to say.  Nothing!  What does that tell you?

Let’s have a quick look at what will likely be Collins Class Submarines Mark II.

There are (I believe) 6 Collins class submarines, but only 2 can be in service at any 1 time.  Also, (I believe) there only enough submariners to man 1 submarine at a time.

The new submarines, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2033 or 2034 (17 plus years) and the last in 2060.

The new submarines will run on diesel.  Australian currently produces no diesel.

According to Robert Gottliebsen in the Australian:

At the time, the Japanese were mystified because they knew their tender was less than half that and the German “all local” tender was even lower — probably under $20bn.

Would it have been better economics to commission the German subs for $20bn and use the other $30bn to pay South Australia to cecede from the Commonwealth?  It might be worth an extra $10bn to get Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hansen-Young out of the Senate forever, and Jay Weatherill out of our wallets.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Roving bandits steal IP

There is a piece in the AFR with the headline:

Why is the technology industry so afraid of tax?

My RMIT colleague Jason Potts and I think we have an answer.

It revolves around differentiating between intellectual property and intellectual property rights. Government thinks that without intellectual property rights that intellectual property doesn’t exist. As such governments think that they can unilaterally expropriate intellectual property by simply varying the rights to that property. Now there are two ways to expropriate intellectual property: outright theft and excess taxation.

This is why, we think, technology companies locate their IP in so-called “tax havens”. To prevent their property from being over-taxed. When Joe Hockey used to claim that we had an out-of-date tax system he wasn’t far wrong – just that he drew the wrong conclusions. Here is Michael Bloomberg explaining the difference between the old economy and the new economy:

For the first time in human history, the majority of people in the developed world are being asked to make a living with their minds, rather than their muscles. For 3,000 years, humankind had an economy based on farming: Till the soil, plant the seed, harvest the crop. It was hard to do, but fairly easy to learn. Then, for 300 years, we had an economy based on industry: Mold the parts, turn the crank, assemble the product. This was hard to do, but also fairly easy to learn.

Now, we have an economy based on information: Acquire the knowledge, apply the analytics and use your creativity. This is hard to do and hard to learn, and even once you’ve mastered it, you have to start learning all over again, pretty much every day.

Anyway – hopefully Jason and I will have a paper setting out the full argument soon.

Posted in Taxation, Technology & Telco | Leave a comment

Economic Health?

Imagine if you will that ever increasing weight was the generally accepted sign of health.  No matter your age, gender, height or physical condition, you are told that the way to better health tomorrow was to weigh more than you did yesterday.

There was a time when such thinking was considered reasonable; when being overweight was a not only a sign of health but also of wealth.

Did you note the magic in that statement?  “Weight is a sign of health.”  Not that being heavy means that you are healthy (or unhealthy), but what is proposed is that higher (than lower) weight is correlated with health.

This is where the problems come in.  Causation versus correlation.  Imagine if you were told that increasing your weight will lead to improving your health so you should engage in strategies to increase your weight.  You eat more and more, often on the advice of someone who wants to make money from selling you food.

The reality, as we all know, is that health is not measured by weight and that the relationship is not linear.  There are weight zones (underweight or overweight) when you may not be healthy just as there are weight zones (optimal weigh) where you may be healthy.  You may also be at optimal weight and have some other disease that makes you unhealthy.  But if you were told by “experts” to ignore everything else and that increasing weight was your pathway to health, what would you do?  What if you were told by these “experts” that as much eating of fat, sugar and salt was your pathway to weight and health, what would you do?

Sounds silly to maximise your fat, salt and sugar intake to improve your health doesn’t it?  Well, this is how our political masters and econocrats want you to believe this is how best to manage the economy.  As long as GDP is increasing, everything is hunky dory.

(Spoiler, if you don’t want to read on, it is government spending that is the fat, sugar and salt in our economic diet).

Imagine now that we define ever increasing spending as a sign of economic health.  It is linear.  More spending means a healthier economy.  Simple.

The problem you see is the GIGO problem – garbage in, garbage out.  As long as it is accepted that the one and only measure of economic health is ever increasing GDP, the only thing that will be targeted is increasing GDP – and GDP is measured by spending.  If spending is funded by debt, that does not matter.  The mix of spending, public versus private, does not matter.  If spending is on junk, does not matter.  All that matters is that there is more spending today than yesterday and the economy is better.

As most Cat readers know, GDP is equal to the sum of C + I + G + X – M and problems arise when C or or X fall.  This is what our learned political masters and econocrats call declining or insufficient aggregate demand.  So the only solution, so as to increase GDP is to increase G – government spending.  It does not matter that the spending is on rubbish or that it is funded by debt, as long as G covers the decline in the rest sufficiently to increase GDP, then all must be good.

Would you tell your children to forget about their greens and eat up on cake, chips and soft drinks because it will make them heavier and hence healthier?  Well why do we accept this nonsense from Canberra?

As a guide, if you hear any of the following statements, you can be assured that the speaker does not know what they are talking about and should be voted off the island immediately.

  • The Government cannot reduce government spending now because it will damage the economy.
  • Investment (aka increased spending) in education will lead to higher tax revenues in the future.
  • We need to tax more to invest in infrastructure.
  • There is no waste in Government administration.

The worst thing about this economic nonsense is that it is espoused by all the major parties.

As we await the release of the Commonwealth budget tomorrow, let’s watch to see how effectively profligacy is described as investment and waste as necessity.  It doesn’t matter to them – its not their money.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Christian Kerr’s gone fishing

Every nation has its budget rituals. In Britain, for example, the Chancellor of the Exchequer always brandishes the red box carrying his budget speech for the cameras as he leaves the door of Number 11 on the way to the House of Commons. In Australia we normally get to see footage of the Treasurer, not in his office but down on the floor of his department, sleeves rolled up, going through columns of figures with his most senior bureaucrats.

Instead, up the other end of the park, Pyne announced a major budget imitative, a key government priority. The Coalition intends to spend $15 million to infect carp in the Murray – indeed, the pest nationwide – with herpes. Or plans to establish a joint national taskforce to finalise a program to give carp the clap to cut down its numbers, said the statement, also adorned with the names of Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, Environment Minister Greg Hunt, and Joyce’s deputy minister and Minister for Water Resources Anne Ruston.

That’s Christian’s take on the latest initiative of our federal government. Read the whole thing at Quadrant.

Posted in Australian Story | 14 Comments

Monday Forum: May 2, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 152 Comments

Guest post. David Leyonhjelm’s Senate election prediction

When the politicians convene in Canberra in the depths of winter later this year, the headlines will read ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.

Prime Minister Turnbull will flash a forced smile as he walks past journalists on his way into a much-diminished joint party room; empty chairs will mark the defeat of various Liberal members. Journalists will reflect on Bill Shorten’s growing stature after a disciplined election campaign.

And they will wonder whether the expanded Senate crossbench will quicken the demise of Prime Minister Turnbull, or keep him off the ropes.

Yes, the Senate crossbench will expand after the July 2 election. If the 2013 general voting pattern (and the 2014 Senate re-run in WA) is repeated at the July 2 election, the crossbench will grow from 8 to 12 despite changes to the voting system that were intended to “clear out the crossbench”.

Leyonhelm op-ed picture

This is a result of the election being a double dissolution. Twelve senators will be elected in each State instead of six. The first eight, nine or ten of these will be elected having achieved the ‘double dissolution quota’ of 7.7 per cent of the vote. The last four, three or two – let’s call them the dregs – will be elected with less than 7.7 per cent of the vote because no other candidate beats them.

A repeat of the 2013 and 2014 voting pattern will see the 11th Senate seat in each State go to a candidate with between 3.43 and 6.58 per cent of the vote, while the 12th will require 2.94 to 4.65 per cent. Even allowing for the fact that the three major parties will also be in contention, and voter preferences will play a part, at least one minor party senator is almost guaranteed in each State and there may be two. In South Australia it will be four because of the Xenophon factor.

Each minor party is salivating at the prospect of becoming one of the dregs. They will all be putting up candidates, such that the ballot on July 2 will be as wide as it was last time. And each party has a simple goal – gaining a higher primary vote than other minor parties. The biggest fish in the minor party pond will be elected, possibly followed by the second biggest.

The big question is not whether the minor parties will succeed, but which ones.

Some lazy journalists have written that nationalist, protectionist, populist celebrities like Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson will succeed. Their musings seem to be based solely on the idea that populists are popular. But these journalists haven’t taken the next step in their thinking: because being populist is popular, there are plenty of populists on the ballot, and the populist vote will be split.

What’s more, the Christian vote will be split, as will the anti-Muslim vote. Even the anti-paedophile vote will be split, with Derryn Hinch hoping like buggery that his rival, the Anti-Paedophile Party, doesn’t get a better ballot position than his Justice Party.

This analysis fills the Liberal Democrats with confidence. Each of our policies – from cutting income tax to defending the rights of social pariahs like smokers and sporting shooters – attracts a niche of supporters who, sadly, have nowhere else to turn. Our vote isn’t split, and could be enough to get us over the line in each State at a double dissolution.

The Senate crossbench after July 2 will be at least as big as it has been for the past two years. It will also be chosen by the voters, either via their primary vote or their preferences. I wonder how long it will take our nation’s journalists to work this out.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

Double dissolution result based on 2013/1014 voting patterns.

Posted in 2016 election, Guest Post, Rafe | 32 Comments

Global warning

Global warming is almost totally out of the news since the evidence that is happening has all but disappeared. But it won’t go away because there are still those agile and innovative enough to make a fantastic living out of it.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy | 5 Comments

Not even 14%

I see the Abbottistas are out and about claiming they comprise 14% of the voting population. Well – not quite.

Not even 14

That 14% of people who vote Liberal or National. According to the same Essential Media report at the last election 45.6% voted Liberal or National, so the number should be 0.14*0.456 = 6.4%.

I just wonder if the 6.4% ever reflect on David Cameron’s victory in the last UK election?

Posted in Politics | 65 Comments

Guest Post: Rob Carruthers – Delcons & Defcons

The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

Robert Conquest’s third law of politics explains the Liberal Party and why you should vote for conservative libertarian alternatives.

Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics:

1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

The Liberal Party functions like a bureaucracy. Success and getting ahead is about managing perception and people, not making a profit. It was only a matter of time until Robert Conquest’s third law of politics applied. It needs to become explicitly right wing to stop the transition. This can only happen if Turnbull and his acolytes lose.

Posted in Guest Post | 6 Comments

Grattan Institute obsessed with wealth distribution

Today in The Australian

Did you realise “investors now account for more than half of new loans for housing, up from 29 per cent two decades ago”?

You would if you had read Hot Property, the Grattan Institute’s latest call to scrap negative gearing and increase capital gains taxes. Except that it isn’t true. Indeed, the statistical series the report cites as its source shows 35.8 per cent of new housing loans went to investors in February 2016.

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments